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NEW YORK, NY   New data released today from the Guttmacher Institute shows a surge in women receiving birth control with no copay thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit.

The study, an ongoing, nationally representative survey of women aged 18-39, compared women’s birth control use in the fall of 2012 (before the ACA’s birth control benefit took effect) and the spring of this year (after the benefit took effect for millions of women). It found that among women with private health insurance:

  • the proportion who did not pay anything for the birth control pill increased substantially and significantly, from 15% to 40%;
  • the proportion who did not pay anything for the vaginal ring increased from 23% to 52%.

This study comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court announcement that it will hear claims made by two for-profit corporations that they have a right to deny their employees birth control under their health insurance plans. These are cases that could deny millions of women access to no-copay birth control and set a dangerous precedent allowing businesses to deny their employees a whole host of other medical procedures and treatments to which they are legally entitled, based on the employer’s personal beliefs. You can read a white paper providing background on the birth control benefit and what’s at stake in the Supreme Court case here.

Following is a statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“This data confirms that the Affordable Care Act is already working for millions of women and their families — and we expect that number to keep growing. Thanks to the ACA, not only are millions more people eligible for health insurance in 2014, but those who already have insurance are getting basic, preventive health care like birth control covered without copays.

“Birth control is an economic issue for women, as well as a health care issue.  More than one in three women voters have struggled to afford birth control — and as a result, haven’t used it consistently. We know that when cost isn’t a factor, women switch to the birth control method that’s right for them, use it reliably, and experience fewer unintended pregnancies. And that’s good news for everyone.

“The bottom line is that a woman’s access to her choice of birth control method should be between a woman and her doctor. Cost shouldn’t be a factor, and no politician or boss should be able to interfere.”

Background Information

After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the Affordable Care Act’s preventive benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women — a recommendation that came from the Institute of Medicine, reflecting the fact that medical and scientific communities agree that access to birth control is common preventive medical care for American women.

Ninety-nine percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point, and nearly 60 percent of women who take the birth control pill use it for medical reasons other than contraception, such as treatment for ovarian cysts, hormone replacement after chemotherapy, endometriosis, and more.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the corporations that filed the cases to be heard by the Court, it will assert for the first time in American history that for-profit corporations have religious rights, and that their owners have the right to refuse to provide legally mandated medical insurance based on their personal beliefs. The implications of such a ruling would impact much more than women’s access to birth control. It would create a very slippery slope, giving private, for-profit employers the right to interfere with their employees’ legal rights, such as the right to coverage of basic care, based solely on their religious views.