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Elections & Politics

New Poll Shows Strong Support for the Birth Control Benefit

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 04.22.14

WASHINGTON, DC -- A report published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association shows 69 percent of Americans support the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that insurance companies cover the full range of FDA-approved contraception methods. The study also found that women overall, and especially African-American and Hispanic respondents, were more likely to support the birth control benefit than men, older respondents, and adults without children younger than 18 years.

“While the Supreme Court considers if corporations can be required to cover birth control in insurance plans like other preventive care, the American public is abundantly clear: we're all for it,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

“This poll shows that there is strong support for the birth control benefit, which requires all insurance companies to cover the full cost of birth control, without a copay under health plans. For women and families this is not a political or social issue -- this is about equality for women and access to basic, preventive health care,” said Richards.

In June, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on two cases challenging the benefit brought forward by bosses at for-profit corporations that want to be able to deny their employees coverage, based on their own personal beliefs. The outcome of these cases could jeopardize access to affordable birth control for millions of women. They could also set a dangerous precedent, sparking discrimination bills and lawsuits by other businesses seeking to deny employees and customers the health benefits and other services they are entitled to under the law, all based on the business owners’ personal beliefs. These corporations wrongly believe emergency contraception is a form of abortion — further illustrating why health care decisions should be between a woman and her doctor, without the involvement of her boss.

  • You can watch a 2-minute animated whiteboard video with Cecile Richards breaking down the health and economic benefits of birth control and the high stakes of the cases here: http://bit.ly/1gA6Nos
  • You can read 50 supporter stories from across the United States in the “Birth Control: We All Benefit” booklet here: http://bit.ly/1elblms
  • You can read a White Paper on the Hobby Lobby case here: http://bit.ly/1aw9sUx 

Linda and Sara share what the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit has meant for them:

“I first started taking birth control when I was dating the man who would become my husband. I was 25 and in college full-time, working toward what would eventually become a master’s and then a Ph.D. I can’t fathom the difficult decisions my husband and I would have to make if we were faced with an unplanned pregnancy, then or now. Deciding if and when to get pregnant is one of the most important decisions a woman can make, and our options shouldn’t depend on how much money we have.

“Especially during those earlier years while I was putting myself through school, the costs associated with my birth control prescription were hard to manage. Even today, my prescription came to about $500 a year before the benefits of the Affordable Care Act kicked in for me.” -- Linda Lombardi, Panama City, FL

“I still remember the day, a little over a year ago, when I got my first birth control prescription for free at the student health center on campus. I felt relieved — it was one less expense that I needed to stress about. It was like a weight was lifted off my chest and I'm forever grateful for that. In fact, I think I almost hugged my doctor.

“I'm a full-time student at Trinity College and, thanks to financial aid, I'm one of the first women in my family to go to college. I also work part time at a local day care center to help pay my bills while I'm in school.”

 -- Sara Bess, Hartford, CT

BACKGROUND

After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the birth control benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women — rightly categorizing birth control as part of women’s basic preventive care.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 27 million women nationally are already eligible for this benefit. When the law is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally will have access to no-copay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Birth control is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons, including the need to control certain medical conditions and to plan our families. Under the birth control benefit, women have access to this important preventive care at no cost.

  • The wide availability of birth control has been an enormous benefit for countless women and their families — enabling them to support themselves financially, complete their education, and plan their families and have children when they’re ready.
  • Virtually all (99 percent) American women between the ages of 15-44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some time.
  •  A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently.  This isn’t surprising considering copays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month — up to $600 per year.  Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance.
  • For many women, birth control is used for a host of health care reasons. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of birth control pill users cite health benefits as a contributing factor for using the birth control pill, including treating endometriosis, menstrual pain, and menstrual regulation.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.