Despite enormous advancements in birth control access, women still struggle to get and afford birth control. When women are not able to use birth control consistently and correctly, they face an increased risk of unintended pregnancy, and related threats to their health, the health of their families, and their economic security. Even women who have insurance coverage continue to face barriers in trying to access birth control. Some insurance plans place arbitrary restrictions in their path: for example, some plans limit how many packs of pills a woman may get at one time, and some plans require that, if a woman wants coverage of an over-the-counter product, she must first obtain a prescription. These kinds of barriers can keep women from using birth control correctly or consistently since it may be impossible for a woman to get time off work or school, or to access a pharmacy due to lack of transportation or limited pharmacy hours. In one study, 18 percent of women reported running out of birth control and having problems resupplying.1 These barriers are especially pronounced for women who rely on public transportation and whose work hours are not predictable.
Moreover, the Trump-Pence Administration is hostile to birth control, and has taken numerous steps to make it more difficult for women to find and afford birth control. Among these threats are new rules that allow virtually any employer or university with religious or moral objections to refuse to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage requirement. The ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement has been significant for women’s health and economic security, because it requires all plans to cover the full range of birth control methods without any out-of-pocket costs to the individual. It is an incredibly popular benefit, with nearly 62.8 million women who now have this coverage. While the Trump-Pence Administration’s rules are currently enjoined nationwide as a result of lawsuits, they continue to put the birth control benefit at risk for millions across the country.
Additionally, statutory requirements for Medicaid to cover family planning services and supplies without out-of-pocket costs and free of coercion and to allow enrollees to see the family planning provider of their choice ensure that birth control is accessible and affordable for women eligible for Medicaid. In fact, Medicaid pays for 75 percent of all publicly-funded family planning in the country. Yet, some women struggling to make ends meet do not qualify for traditional Medicaid. If they live in a state that has not expanded Medicaid or do not have special Medicaid family planning programs, they are forced to go without contraceptive coverage.