How The Obamacare Replacement May Affect Birth Control Costs

At last count, 62 percent of women ages of 15 and 44 were using a method of contraception, according to the CDC.

Sixteen percent of those women were using birth control pills, 7 percent were using intrauterine devices (a figure that has spiked since Donald Trump was elected President, according to several news reports), 9 percent relied on condoms and 21 percent on male or female sterilization.

As the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act heads to the Senate after passing in the house on May 4, many women are wondering what the fate of their birth control costs may be.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that marketplace plans cover birth control at no cost to the subscriber—a move that saved women an estimated average of $250 a year.

As it stands, here’s how birth control could be affected in the future:

  • Prior to the ACA, women were paying up to $50 per month as co-pays for their birth control pills and $1,000 for IUD insertion (IUDs can be in place for anywhere from 2-12 years, hence the high cost of insertion), according to Reuters. The bill passed by the House will not affect the ACA’s requirement that all private health plans include no-cost contraception coverage. So, women purchasing insurance from the exchange could find themselves paying more for birth control while those with private insurance may not see a change.
  • Separate from the healthcare overhaul, Trump signed an executive order allowing religious organizations to deny employees insurance coverage for birth-control pills. Religious groups have argued it’s against their beliefs to provide birth control to employees. Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens released a statement against the order, saying “This executive order is not about protecting religious liberty — it is a direct attack on women’s access to birth control. A woman’s health should not be up to her boss or politicians.”
  • The bill passed in the House would also defund Planned Parenthood, but only for a year, according to NPR. If Planned Parenthood permanently lost funding, it would cost the federal government more money, according to analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The logic? More women will become pregnant if they lose access to birth control, and could end up qualifying for Medicaid, which would cost the government more in the long-run.
  • The Congressional Budget Office’s estimated that Congress’ first proposed repeal could lead to 24 million uninsured Americans over the course of a decade. That number hasn’t been updated to consider the new House-approved healthcare plan, however analysts expect the number of uninsured will be even more with this latest iteration. Since millions of women will lose coverage, they will no longer have access to no-copay birth control.

House Republicans have approved their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, which now would require approval from the Senate. After the vote, Trump held a press conference and celebration, saying: “We are going to get this passed through the Senate. I am so confident,” according to Reuters.

But analysts point out that the bill will face hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority and opposition from some key Senators could sink it. Also, Republican Senators have signaled that they want to take their own crack at overhauling healthcare, and it’s not certain how different that will look from the House-proposed bill.