Monday, October 15, 2012

The Real Cost of Contraceptives

Why should health insurance companies provide contraceptives?  From Nancy Folbre on Economix.

1. "In a recent Guttmacher Institute study of women at 22 family planning clinics in 13 states, the most frequently cited reason given for using contraception was inability to take care of a baby at the time."

2. "...unintended pregnancy costs American taxpayers roughly $11 billion each year." (same study)

3. "A report by Adam Thomas published in March by the Brookings Institution shows that unintended pregnancies are disproportionately concentrated among women who are unmarried, teenage and poor."

4. "...these pregnancies set in motion a series of unfortunate outcomes that effectively reproduce poverty." (same report)

5. "...people need to protect themselves, pre-emptively, from carelessness that can lead to costly consequences."

6. "A recent study in St. Louis enrolled more than 9,000 adolescent and adult women at risk of unintended pregnancy into a study that provided contraceptive counseling and offered participants the reversible contraceptive method of their choice at no cost....  The researchers reported a clinically and statistically significant reduction in abortion rates, repeat abortions and teenage birth rates."

If all women in the U.S. had access to free or low cost contraceptives and counseling, the financial benefits for families and the country would be tremendous.

Ms. Folbre said, "private choices are constrained by public policies."  I tried to think of a comparable example from men's medicine practices that is controlled by public policy the same way contraceptives for women are but could not.  When men want a particular medication (like Viagra) paid for by health insurance companies, it's done.  So why is this not the same for women?

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