BOSTON— Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) released the following statement in celebration of the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The Affordable Care Act includes a historic investment in prevention, including a key provision requiring health insurers to cover certain women’s preventive health care services, including birth control with no co-pays. Approximately 47 million women nationally and more than 1.2 million women in Massachusetts stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
“The Affordable Care Act is the single biggest advancement in women’s health in a generation and is already making a significant health and economic difference in the lives of women in Massachusetts who have access to birth control without co-pays for the first time,” said PPLM’s Chief Executive Officer Marty Walz. “Thanks to this landmark benefit, many women can now access a full-range of FDA-approved contraceptives, allowing them to select the method that best meets their health needs and encourages consistent use.
“Unfortunately, even three years later, some politicians and employers opposed to birth control are still fighting to keep affordable birth control out of the hands of many women. Women's preventive care — including birth control – is basic health care and your boss shouldn’t get to decide whether or not you are able to access such care without additional costs. It’s time our elected representatives across the country connect the dots and realize that we all benefit when women have access to sexual health care and affordable birth control,” said Walz.
Last month, Planned Parenthood Federation of America launched the “Birth Control: We All Benefit” campaign to remind Americans and their elected representatives that everyone benefits when women have access to affordable birth control. Millions of Americans stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, which went into effect in August in some plans and makes birth control available without co-pays or deductibles. Access to no co-pay birth control has significant health and economic benefits, with women spending up to $600 a year on birth control.
Every year, Planned Parenthood health centers in Massachusetts see more than 30,000 patients – 17,798 specifically for birth control information and services.
- Access to birth control is not just a health issue, it’s an economic issue. A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. This isn’t surprising considering co-pays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month — up to $600 per year. Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars – even with health insurance.
- A 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that women use contraception to better achieve their life goals, with the majority of participants reporting that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives, allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent). Other reasons for using contraception, reported by a majority of respondents, include not being ready to have children (63 percent), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60 percent), and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60 percent).
- Birth control has contributed to the advancement of women in the workplace by allowing them to plan for their futures and invest in their careers. Research finds that availability of the pill is responsible for a third of women’s wage increases relative to men. By the 1980s and ’90s, the women who had early access to the pill were making eight percent more each year than those who did not.
- Further, contraception is directly linked to improved maternal and infant health. When women plan their pregnancies, they are more likely to access prenatal care, ultimately improving their own health and the health of their children.
- Public polling finds overwhelming support for women’s access to birth control. Seven in ten Americans (70 percent) believe that health insurance companies should be required to cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services, according to an October 2012 poll by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
- Additionally, the Contraceptive CHOICE study led by the Washington University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology demonstrated that access to birth control counseling, drugs, and devices without cost-sharing — as promised in the Affordable Care Act — leads to significantly lower rates of unintended pregnancy.
Media Relations Coordinator
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is the largest freestanding reproductive health care provider in the state. For over 80 years PPLM has protected and promoted sexual and reproductive health and freedom of choice through clinical services, education and advocacy. For more information, visit www.pplm.org.
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