Thursday, July 14, 2011

Contraception is Prevention

From Raising Women's Voices...

Contraception is Prevention: Make Sure Health Reform Treats It That Way

The new health care reform law is lowering the cost of preventive health services by eliminating co-pays and deductibles for these services in all new insurance plans. Amazingly, however, contraception is not yet included in the list of preventive services exempt from this kind of “cost sharing” – even though birth control is one of the preventive services that’s most critical for protecting women’s health.

This summer, U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will decide whether contraception should be added to the list of preventive services that are exempt from co-pays and deductibles under health reform. She will receive a recommendation from medical experts at the Institute of Medicine in July and is expected to issue a ruling in August.

Take Action Today:

Tell HHS to add contraception to the list of preventive services exempt from insurance company co-pays and deductibles so that comprehensive contraceptive care will be available at no additional cost.

Mobilize your friends and neighbors to speak out on this issue!

Between now and when HHS announces its decision, you can help secure this women’s health victory by raising the visibility of this issue in your community. You can make sure that policy makers in Washington hear the message loud and clear– comprehensive contraceptive care should be exempt from cost-sharing, just like other medically proven preventive health care. Raise the topic at community meetings and educational forums on health reform and other places where women’s health is being discussed. Here are key points to make
  • Women strongly support removing co-pays for preventive health care services.
  • Contraception is essential preventive care for women, and better access to comprehensive contraceptive care leads to better health for women and their babies.
The Case for Having Contraception Exempt from Co-Pays and Deductibles
 Eliminating cost barriers to contraception will prevent health problems for women and families. Cost-sharing requirements, like co-payments, make people, especially low-income people, less likely to get health services, including preventive care and prescription drugs.1

In 2009, 30 percent of sexually active low- and middle-income women reported having put off a gynecology or birth control visit to save money; one-quarter of those who used the contraceptive pill reported saving money by using the method inconsistently.2

In states that made it easier for low-income women to afford contraception by extending Medicaid family planning coverage to more people, there was a dramatic drop in the incidence of short birth intervals (a year or less between babies) for women in the program. Shorter times between a birth and a subsequent pregnancy make preterm birth and low birth weight more likely, which has serious negative consequences for the babies’ health.3, 4

There is broad public support for making contraception available at no additional cost. Public opinion research shows that 84 percent of adults nationwide believe family planning services, including contraception, are important to basic preventive health care services. This strong support crosses many demographic lines: 5, 6

·         77 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of Independents and 93 percent of Democrats agree.
·         77 percent of Catholic women voters say insurance should cover the full cost of contraception
·         Latinas and African American women ages 18-34 are almost unanimous in their support for this policy (89% and 92%, respectively).

Medical and public health experts agree with the public – contraception is prevention.

There is a strong public health consensus that contraception is an essential tool in preventing bad health outcomes for women and children. The CDC cites family planning as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century, noting that access to contraceptive services and supplies is responsible for expanding intervals between births, “contribut[ing] to the better health of infants, children and women.”7

“Contraception is an essential and basic preventive health service; it reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and thus the need for abortion.”8

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

1 Swartz K, Cost-sharing: effects on spending and outcomes, Research Synthesis Report, Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2010, no. 20
2 Guttmacher Institute, A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Decisions, 2009.
3 Conde-Aguedelo A, Rosas-Bermudez A and Kafury-Goeta AC, Birthspacing and risk of adverse perinatal outcomes: a meta-analysis, Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006, 295(15):1809-1823.
4 Zhu BP, Effect of interpregnancy interval on birth outcomes: findings from three recent US studies, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2005, 89(supplement 1):S25-S33.
5 Survey Findings on Public Support for Family Planning, Lake Research Partners, June 3, 2011
6 Fully Covering Rx Birth Control, June/July 2010, Hart Research for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Achievements in public health, 1900-1999: family planning, Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report, 1999, 48(47):1073-1080.

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