The Affordable Care Act (ACA) substantially increased rates of insurance coverage within the first year of implementation, including among women of reproductive age. The ACA also requires that private insurance plans cover contraceptives without any out-of-pocket costs. These provisions may have led more women to start using prescription contraception.
We conducted two cross-sectional studies, collecting data from 8,062 women aged 18 to 39 in the fall 2012 and spring 2015. We examined contraceptive use patterns during both time periods. We used logistic regression to determine whether differences between the two time periods were significant, adjusting for the demographic characteristics of respondents.
We observed no changes in contraceptive use patterns among sexually active women. However, use of the pill nearly doubled, from 21% to 40%, among young women aged 18 to 24 who had not had sex in the last month. Many of these women cited benefits of the pill in addition to pregnancy prevention.
It may be that the ACA has yet to affect contraceptive use patterns, and it is possible that it will do so in the future, but the evidence thus far suggests the importance of further research into contraceptive access and sources of care.
Jonathan Bearak is a Senior Research Scientist and Rachel K. Jones is a Principal Research Scientist, both at the Guttmacher Institute, New York.
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