If you’re still unsure about how the Affordable Care Act benefits women, Planned Parenthood is a good place to start. As an organization that often targets young people in order to improve access to information about reproductive health, the group is a great source for the 18-34 age demographic which has shown to be distinctively apathetic toward Obamacare. Planned Parenthood has recently published an illustrative graphic detailing many of the ways the act will affect women. Of particular importance are the improvements in access to contraceptives – something women alone have been paying for.
With the implementation of the ACA, women can access any FDA-approved form of birth control without a copay and without having to apply the costs to her deductible, and the full cost will be covered by her monthly premium. While this may seem like a minor change, what we spend on birth control is really spectacular. According to Hart Research Associates, 34% of female voters have cited the cost of prescription contraceptives as a major financial struggle in their lives. The bill on birth control is often equal to five weeks of groceries in an average family’s household, or up to 600 dollars a month for an individual; almost half of the national average apartment rental rate. You can see a break-down of costs for different types of contraception here. So while you might assume that the 18-34 bracket has more important things to worry about than health care, this suggests that the assumption is worth re-considering.
As it stands, young people often lean toward the notion that paying the penalty for remaining uninsured fits into their budget better than actually insuring themselves — or that they needn’t carry the financial burden for the elderly. This, however is an idea that really only applies to those young people who don’t need, or think they need, preventative care — including birth control. But whether it’s your student debt that you’re prioritizing, or perhaps paying for housing, contraception could be a huge oversight in your budget. It definitely wasn’t for this Georgetown University student who in 2012 reported that female law students at her school would likely spend $3000 in birth control costs during her three-year degree.
The problem for women is this: studies have shown that, in certain cases, oral contraceptives — one of the cheapest birth control options — comprised 29 percent of out-of-pocket spending for privately insured women, and that women spend 68 percent more on out-of-pocket health care costs than men. Plus, half of American women before 2010 avoided preventative care because of its cost. Women may carry the responsibility for paying for contraceptives, but of course the importance isn’t theirs alone. With 3.2 million unintended pregnancy in the U.S. annually (49 percent of total births), it is crucial that contraceptives of every kind are affordable.
The results will help women financially, but will benefit us all.