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    ACA’s impact on women’s spending for contraception

    An analysis of claims data from a national insurer shows that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has translated into lower out-of-pocket costs for contraception for women. Since 2008, on average, users of oral contraceptives (OCs) have saved $255 annually and women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) have saved $248, a 20% drop, according to the report in Health Affairs.

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    Researchers from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania say their findings, spanning the period from June 2012 to June 2013 and reflecting costs for 8 categories of contraceptives, suggest that women’s out-of-pocket savings are even higher than that estimated in a recent industry report. They caution that the numbers “should be interpreted as short-term changes in out-of-pocket spending only and should not be used for long-term estimates of out-of-pocket spending reductions.” 

    Nevertheless, analysis of month-level observations for 790,895 women aged 13 to 45 enrolled in private health insurance for at least 1 month during the study period showed a significant drop in the cost of contraception. In the year for which data were assessed, the average adjusted per claim out-of-pocket cost for an OC prescription fell from $33.58 to $19.84 and for an IUD insertion from $293.28 to $145.24, declines of 38% and 68%, respectively.

    For the other 6 categories of contraceptives examined, the authors also reported declines in cost, ranging from 93% for emergency contraception to 84% for diaphragms or cervical caps, 72% for the implant, 68% for injection, and only 2% and 3%, respectively, for the ring and the patch.

    The sample analyzed included women in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and looked at claims for contraception provided by a pharmacy and in a physician office. Cost-sharing for physician appointments or costs of IUD or implant removals were not included in the analysis.

    The results, the authors said, “suggest that the mandate has led to large reductions in total out-of-pocket spending on contraceptives and that these price changes are likely to be salient for women with private health insurance.”

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    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.
    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.

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