Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that finances health services for over 52 million low-income individuals in the United States each year, turns 40 this month. Enacted in 1965, Medicaid has become increasingly important over the years and is now the single largest source of public dollars supporting family planning services and supplies nationwide.
In 2003, the most recent year for which data are available, 7.1 million women of reproductive age (15–44)—12% of all women in that age group—relied on Medicaid for care. For poor women, the proportion is even higher—37% of women of reproductive age in families with incomes below the federal poverty line were enrolled in Medicaid.
Why is Medicaid coverage for family planning services so important?
- Half of the 34.5 million U.S. women in need of contraceptive services and supplies must rely on publicly supported contraceptive services.
- Medicaid contributes 61% of all public funds spent on family planning services in the United States; other state funds contribute only 15% and other federal sources provide only 24% of the total.
- Medicaid funding for contraceptive services has grown dramatically from $100 million in the early 1980s, to nearly $350 million in 1994 and to $770 million in 2001.
- Some states have extended eligibility for family planning services to large numbers of low-income individuals who might otherwise have had no source of coverage for these services. A recent federally funded study found that these programs expand access to care, increase the diversity of family planning providers and reduce unintended pregnancy, while saving both the federal and state governments large sums of money.
Click on the links below to learn more about publicly funded family planning services and the Medicaid program.