Doubling the current $283 million funding level for the federal Title X family planning program could help low-income women prevent an estimated 244,000 unintended pregnancies annually, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis. By averting an estimated 116,000 unplanned births, most of which would otherwise be paid for by the Medicaid program, doubling Title X funding could also result in yearly net government savings of almost $800 million—a return of about $3.80 in savings for every $1 increase in Title X funding. The increase could also prevent an estimated 98,000 abortions.
“The new analysis adds to the already strong evidence that investing in publicly funded contraceptive services can lead to significant reductions in the numbers of unplanned pregnancies, abortions and unplanned births, while saving millions in public dollars,” says Rachel Benson Gold, the Guttmacher Institute’s director of policy analysis and one of the report’s authors. “It’s a common-sense approach that yields huge benefits for women individually, as well as for society overall, especially when combined with other policy steps, such as expanding access to contraceptives through Medicaid.”
A previous Guttmacher study, released in August, estimated that expanding Medicaid eligibility for family planning services could help women prevent nearly 500,000 unwanted pregnancies and 200,000 abortions, while also averting 225,000 unplanned births and thereby saving $1.5 billion in annual federal and state expenditures.
“Medicaid and Title X are highly complementary—and highly effective—programs that boost low-income women’s access to family planning services,” says Dr. Sharon L. Camp, Guttmacher president and CEO. “A poor woman is now nearly four times as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy as her higher-income counterpart. But inflation-adjusted funding for Title X has dropped by nearly 60% since FY 1980, even as family planning clinics have faced escalating costs and growing numbers of women find themselves in need of publicly funded family planning services. The new Congress should make it an urgent priority to invest in these programs—it’s a win-win that helps families and saves the government money.”
About the study
The new analysis, “Estimating the Impact of Serving New Clients by Expanding Funding for Title X,” by Jennifer J. Frost, Adam Sonfield, Rachel Benson Gold and Fatima H. Ahmed, examines four scenarios for increasing Title X funding (increases of 10%, 25%, 50% and 100%). The report provides a range of outcomes for each of the four scenarios, reflecting the flexibility that individual grantees have in putting additional funds to use—for example, by adding new clients or expanding services for existing ones. In each of the four scenarios, the mid-range estimate is considered the most likely national result in the aggregate; however, using the entire range is critical when using the estimates for individual states.
About the Title X program
Title X of the Public Health Service Act is the only federal program devoted exclusively to providing publicly supported contraceptive services to low-income women and to supporting the operations of family planning clinics. Title X’s role is critical, since it helps to pay the cost of serving clients who do not meet the narrow eligibility requirements of Medicaid.
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. counties have at least one Title X–supported clinic—and 94% of women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services lived in these countries in 2001. Between 1980 and 1999, Title X–supported clinics helped women avoid 19 million unplanned pregnancies.