About 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and are higher among adolescents and young women, minorities and women with less educational and financial resources. Thus strategies to prevent unintended pregnancies include assisting women at risk in choosing appropriate contraceptive methods and helping women use those methods properly and consistently. A new report prepared by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is now available and addresses sometimes controversial or complex issues regarding specific contraceptive methods. They utilize recommendations originally made by the World Health Organization but they have been tailored more specifically to the U.S.
As predicted, the debate about access to contraception in the U.S. has entered the political process with the counter attack focusing on freedom of religion. This blog will look at another side of the issue: cost. The cost of contraception is estimated to be between $600 and $1000 per year based on the choice of contraceptive method. According to a report issue by the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services, "evidence from well-documented prior expansions of contraceptive coverage indicates that the cost to issurers of including coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive methods in insurance offered to an employed population is ZERO."
After a review of actuarial studies, one of the study authors concluded that "....regardless of payment mechanism or contraceptive method, contraception saves money". When indirect costs are considered, (time away from work, productivity loss, etc.) contraceptive benefits actually save an employer money.
The report found that providing contraception through public programs is also cost-saving. Public funds for family planning prevents about 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies according to the report. When some people say contraception is an important health issue, they are right. Consider this, preventing 1.94 pregnancies results in 860,000 fewer unintended births, 810,000 fewer abortions and 270,000 fewer miscarriages. Avoiding significant costs associated with these unintended births saves taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent on family planning.To read the full report summary and references, click HERE.
Not only is contraception access an important women's health issue because it is used to treat several conditions beyond preventing pregnancies, it is much more cost effective than programs like abstinence only and those that support women who remain in poverty due to unintended pregnancy. It is interesting to note that the majority of proponents of the religious freedom point of view are men! Wonder if they would feel so strongly if they were the ones to get pregnant!