Friday, September 25, 2009

Recession is Limiting Women’s Access to Family Planning Services

A study released Wednesday confirms many suspicions- the economic downturn has had negative consequences for women seeking family planning services. Losing their jobs or health insurance has driven many women to delay gynecologic visits, skip birth control pills, or stop paying for contraceptives altogether. These women may be saving money in the short term by skipping pills or visits, but they are putting themselves at risk for an unintended pregnancy, which will only result in more costly options. Nearly half of the women in this survey wanted to delay having children, often voicing concerns about caring for the children they already have.

For a more in-depth look, you can view the full report- “A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Options” or read the Guttmacher Institute’s news release on the study.

Hopefully, this news will encourage legislators to push health care reform into policy and ensure that the new plan provides increased access to family planning services. Like most prevention methods of health care, family planning saves money in the long run. In fact estimates show that every dollar spent to provide services in the nationwide network of publicly funded family planning clinics saves $4.02 in pregnancy-related and newborn care costs to Medicaid. Women realize that delaying childbearing makes sense in this economy, but many women are not being given the means to do it. The government, legislators, and the health care industry should ensure that women who want to prevent pregnancy have access to the birth control they need. Health care reform should make preventative health care services like family planning more affordable and accessible for everyone, and especially for low-to-middle income families.

If you are like 23% of the women surveyed and are having a harder time paying for birth control than you have in the past, you should read Deborah Kotz’s blog. She interviews Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute about ways to save money on birth control pills.

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