Unintended pregnancies fell 18 percent between 2008 and 2011 — the steepest decline in decades — and it's largely because women are choosing better, more effective birth control.
Women are picking better, more effective birth control. Since 2007, researchers have seen a sharp rise in long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as intrauterine devices and implants. These forms of birth control last for years once inserted and prevent pregnancy for more than 99 percent of users. That helps explain why they're a big part of the story behind America's plummeting unintended pregnancy rate.
One of the biggest obstacles to LARC use, historically, has been price. Planned Parenthood has estimated that IUDs can cost between $500 and $900 out of pocket. Insurance plans tended to charge patients more for IUDs than for birth control pills, just because the devices have such high upfront costs.Many objections have been raised to Obamacare precisely because some have religious objections to coverage of contraception, including conventional contraception that indisputably works before conception. Colorado's conservative legislators defunded a program that had demonstrated success in reducing pregnancy through long-acting contraceptives.
Obamacare is changing that in two ways. The law's insurance expansion means millions more Americans now have coverage, and that will help pay their medical bills. Additionally, Obamacare mandates that insurers cover all contraceptives at no cost to patients. This means that insurers can't charge patients more for an IUD because the device costs more than birth control pills.
There's already evidence that this regulation has lowered financial barriers to LARCs. A 2015 study in the journal Health Affairs found that Obamacare's birth control mandate reduced out-of-pocket spending on IUDs by $248 per patient.