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Obamacare is cutting the cost of birth control—and cheaper birth control means fewer unwanted pregnancies

Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Geopolitics reporter

According to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), insurance companies (with few exceptions) have to cover the costs of birth control to women. While several insurance companies in at least 14 states still fail to comply with the requirement (pdf, p.12) of offering all FDA-approved methods of birth control free of cost, the savings for women are still significant.

A study published in Health Affairs found that in the first year since the law went into effect, American women have saved $1.4 billion in birth control. The individual savings have been an average of $255 per woman for the birth control pill and $248 for IUDs (on which women saved as much as 68%).

The lower cost of birth control doesn’t only increase the likelihood of its use, but it can also give women more choice in terms of what method to adopt. It could lead to increasing the usage of IUDs, which are highly effective but were more expensive than the pill before the law.

Access to affordable birth control has been linked by several studies to an increase in lifetime earnings and a decrease in unwanted pregnancies. The latest of these studies comes from Colorado, where six years of offering free birth control to over 30,000 women has cut the rate of unwanted pregnancies by 40%. Less unwanted pregnancies also means less abortions: One study published in October 2014 found that teen abortion rates dropped significantly in when they had access to contraceptives.

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