Concerns that President Donald Trump and Republicans would repeal the Affordable Care Act, thereby potentially making long-acting, reversible birth control methods more costly or difficult to come by, appears to have inspired American women to rush out and obtain these devices in greater numbers after the 2016 election, according to The New York Times.
In November 2016, Sarah Christopherson, the policy advocacy director at the National Women’s Health Network, told Broadly, a branch of Vice Media, that women should be “very, very worried” about birth control.
Those warnings appear to have had the desired effect: Women went out and took care of their reproductive health needs in higher numbers not long after Trump was declared the victor.
A study published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine supports what doctors had already observed: There was an increase in the insertion rate of long-acting reversible birth control devices soon after the 2016 presidential election.
“The unique thing about IUDs and implants is that they last for so long,” said Dr. Lydia Pace, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study. Because the devices were so long-lasting, women were taking advantage of insurance coverage provided under the Affordable Care Act, and getting a birth control method with the longevity to weather potential policy changes.
The IUD, a small device placed in the uterus, has been shown to be more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy and can work for up to 12 years, depending on the type. But without insurance coverage, IUDs can be expensive: Out-of-pocket costs can be from $500 to $1,000. Implants are also more than 99 percent effective and last up to five years, but can cost up to $1,300 without insurance.
Pace said it isn’t possible to know for sure that Trump’s victory was the reason so many women opted to take advantage of the birth control methods, but she also said she knew of nothing “else that happened that could account for that rise.”
The study, which only looked at women enrolled in commercial health insurance, found a 21.6 percent increase in the insertion rates of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods among women ages 18-45 in the 30 days after Mr. Trump was elected.
Elizabeth Clark, the director of health media at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told The Times that the organization saw“an unprecedented surge in questions about access to health care and birth control, both online and in our health centers, and a nearly tenfold increase in appointments for IUDs.”
The Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to cover 18 types of contraception, including IUDs and implants, and gave millions of women access to birth control without the need for a co-payment. The Trump administration originally rolled back the birth control mandate in 2017, a move that was quickly challenged in federal court.
New Trump administration rules published in November allow employers to obtain an exemption based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs” or moral convictions. But a federal court issued a nationwide injunction in January that prevented the administration from interfering with women’s access to free birth control.