Monday, December 16, 2019

Birth Control, Out of Control

Birth control changes lives, that is a fact. Its benefits range from preventing infectious contagious diseases like HIV/AIDS, to the amazing power of women’s body autonomy. In between, there are things like preventing adolescent pregnancy and lowering the infant mortality rate. According to World Health Organization, there are 214 million women around the world who would like to be able to have access to contraception, but who are unable to receive it. You guessed it these numbers affect the developing world mostly. However the picture of readily available birth control is skewed. There is no doubt that the developing world needs more change into improving contraception numbers, but in this country, in the U.S. we have a crisis.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that president Obama put in place helped level out the playing field of health insurance. Health insurance, however, does not solve it all. There are approximately 75 percent of women in the U.S. who have insurance. However, a study showed that women with private insurance pay 50 percent more for oral contraceptives.

In political talk there is always this saying of “following the money”. It is used for everything, from vaccinations to a political race sponsorship. From one end of the spectrum in the political compendium to the other one, financial circumstances are always brought up to the contraceptive conversation table. Why is that? How much does money actually have to do with birth control?

Planned Parenthood one of the agencies that serves women, specifically lower income women, helps millions of women throughout the country. Consultations that result in a prescription for birth control are available daily in these clinics. Free condoms, IUDs for a low cost, and free counseling are at the center of this resource. These services are all vital for a healthy population. However, throughout the years, governments have tried time and time again to defund Planned Parenthood.

The defunding of an organization like Planned Parenthood would result in millions of women left without access to essential services. Not only would birth control be more limited to these women, but other medical things that are vital would vanish. Amongst those services are the cervical cancer screenings and prenatal care, for example.

The reason why organizations like Planned Parenthood and others who do things that are similar are so vital, is because the financial stability of many women around the country do not allow for them to go a private clinic. Almost 50 percent of women between the ages of 18-34 who live in households for which the income is $75,000 or less have reported they need to postpone or limit their ability to have children due to economic hardships, planned parenthood reports. The average income for working adults in the same age cohort is $27,458.

According to Planned Parenthood, the prices of birth control vary greatly depending if the client has health insurance or if they qualify for Medicaid or any other government programs that might cover the cost of birth control pills. 1 pack of pills, which typically last a month, range between $0-$50. They are free with health insurance.

The problem with these pills, for example, is not whether they are covered by health insurance or not, because almost always they are virtually free with any health insurance. The issue lies with the requirements needed to obtain contraceptives like the Pill. The most important is a prescription. To get a birth control pill, a prescription is mandatory. Prescriptions are only obtained through a medical appointment, which costs money. Some of these appointments only cost a small copay, but many can cost up to $250. That can be the price of an appointment for a birth control prescription. This immediately makes birth control costly for women of low income.

Panic becomes rampant when laws or rules are changed and women are left without ways to obtain contraceptives due to their financial situation. There was recently a case of outrage from college students, particularly married students. For a minute it seemed like BYU-Idaho was putting in place a new rule that would not allow students to use Medicaid to fulfill the insurance requirements. They would have had to by the school’s private insurance that did not cover many things and is very expensive. BYU-Idaho reversed its decision only a couple of weeks ago after much pressure, both within the school and from the media.   

These are cases that need to be taken seriously. Oral contraceptives are an investment. They are expensive and in some cases they even approach 29 percent of out-of-pocket spending for women with private insurance. Fertile years are much more expensive for women then they are for men. Women scrambling for change to afford their contraceptives is just as real as women scrambling for change to feed their families.

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