U.S. Women Saved $483 Million On Their Birth Control Pills Last Year

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Women in the United States saved an estimated $483 million on their out-of-pocket costs for the birth control pill, according to new data from the IMS Institute on Healthcare Informatics. The health care data company found that Obamacare has “dramatically reduced” women’s out-of-pocket costs now that insurers are required to cover preventative care without charging an additional co-pay.

Compared to the data from 2012, about 24 million more birth control pill prescriptions were filled without a co-pay in 2013. That means each of the women filling those prescriptions ended up saving an average of $269. Those savings can make all the difference for women who are struggling to afford the reproductive care they need. According to the IMS Institute’s data, there was 4.6 percent increase in prescriptions for birth control between 2012 and 2013.

One of the most common misconceptions about Obamacare’s contraceptive provision is the assumption that women are now getting birth control “for free.” In reality, however, these women are accessing birth control through their private, employer-sponsored health insurance plans. Women do pay for the benefits included in those plans, both by working at their job and by paying a monthly premium. Under Obamacare, the difference is that they don’t have to pay an additional out-of-pocket cost for the preventative health benefits specific to their gender.

This Obamacare policy is currently the subject of a Supreme Court challenge, as two for-profit companies say that covering birth control violates their religious beliefs. But — perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the economic benefits — it’s very popular with the American public.

According to a recent survey, about seven in ten Americans support “mandated coverage of birth control medications in health plans.” Another recent poll found that two thirds of female voters don’t believe for-profit corporations should be exempt from providing contraceptive coverage based on religious objections. And, despite the fact that the legal challenges to the health reform law have relied on a “religious liberty” frame, many faith groups are also supportive of birth control coverage in employer plans.

Once Obamacare is fully in effect, an estimated 47 million women across the country will have access to birth control, along with other preventative health services, without being charged an additional co-pay. That isn’t a benefit that’s likely to go unused. Nearly 100 percent of U.S. women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives.