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Study: ACA's birth control mandate lowers women's costs by $1.4B


The Affordable Care Act's birth control provision has lowered the cost of birth control pills by $1.4 billion, according to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs.

The study, which was conducted by University of Pennsylvania health economists, analyzed health insurance claims from one private insurer that does business in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The researchers found that in the six months before the contraception mandate went into effect Aug. 1, 2012, women spent an average out-of-pocket expense of about $32 on birth control pills. That amount dropped to about $20 after the mandate. For intrauterine devices, spending decreased even more, from about $262 to $84. Further, the average user of the pill saved roughly $255 per year following the mandate. 

Although the study only included claims from one insurer, preventing it from being nationally representative, some experts still find its conclusions important.

"I find this study persuasive and consistent with what other studies are finding--that women's out-of-pocket spending is falling since this provision was implemented in 2012," Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The New York Times. "I think we're seeing a clear pattern in the research."

But despite the ACA mandate and the steep cost decreases seen so far, some female members are still paying portions of their contraception costs. That's because insurers were allowed to phase in the requirement, some plans were grandfathered and other plans were exempted for religious reasons.

Following reports that found that some insurers don't comply with the rule, the Obama administration clarified that all insurers must cover at least one version of each of the 18 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Health Affairs study
- read The New York Times article

Related Articles:
HHS tells insurers they must cover all contraceptive methods
Insurers violate ACA's women's health coverage requirements, reports say
Report: Contraception coverage varies across health plans