Inequities in access to contraception based on ability to pay can interfere with individuals’ reproductive autonomy. This study examines the impact of a 2017 state-level policy in Iowa restricting Medicaid coverage at abortion-providing health care centers on patients’ access to contraceptive care and subsequent contraceptive use. We draw on a unique panel dataset of individuals who originally sought care at a publicly supported family planning site in Iowa in 2018–2019 and then participated in subsequent follow-up surveys every 6 months for 2 years to examine an effect of access to care on contraceptive use. Among our final analytic sample of 368 individuals, our findings indicate that receipt of recent contraceptive care decreased over the study period; this coincided with patients shifting away from getting contraceptive care at sites potentially impacted by the 2017 Iowa Medicaid policy restriction while those getting this care at non-impacted sites remained relatively steady over the study period. At the same time, nonuse of contraception increased while use of a contraceptive method that carries cost, use of a provider-involved method, and satisfaction with one’s method decreased. We find that, after controlling for patient characteristics, those who shifted toward receiving contraceptive care experienced increases in these three contraceptive outcomes. We interpret this as preliminary descriptive evidence demonstrating an impact of disruptions in access to contraceptive care on contraceptive outcomes. Supportive payment and funding strategies for contraception, rather than policies that impede or restrict access, are needed to enable people to realize full reproductive autonomy.
Abstract / Summary