Originally published on October 22, 2012, on bedsider.org
The vast majority of sexually active women — 99% — have used birth control at some point. Doesn’t sound very controversial, right? Yet somehow a whole lot of folks seem to be “discussing” birth control lately—and they don’t always have the facts straight.
You may have noticed birth control is what we’re all about, so we wanted to share 5 facts we think everyone should know about birth control in the U.S.
1. It’s a win for taxpayers and businesses.
- Taxpayers benefit. Unplanned pregnancy costs U.S. taxpayers $12 billion a year. A big chunk of that number comes from the cost of providing health care for low-income women during and after the birth of their child through Medicaid. Medicaid covers 41% of births in the U.S.—the average cost for one of those births as of 2008 was $12,613. On the other hand, Medicaid spent an average of $257 to cover birth control for one person that same year. That comes out to $3.74 in taxpayer savings for every dollar invested in birth control through Medicaid.
- Businesses benefit. Back in February, TIME published an article about why health reform won’t increase insurance costs, making the case that insurance companies benefit from helping their customers prevent unplanned pregnancies they’d have to pay for down the line. The National Business Group on Health recommends that businesses help their female employees plan their pregnancies—including providing coverage of all FDA-approved prescription birth control methods at no cost—as a way to save money.
2. It reduces abortion.
Earlier this month, two studies—one from researchers in St. Louis and the other from researchers in Iowa—provided solid evidence that access to effective birth control can make a difference in this arena. Both studies made super-effective birth control methods available and affordable to local women over several years—and both studies resulted in major decreases in unplanned pregnancy and abortion.
On the national level, almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. were unplanned as of 2006—and 43% of those unplanned pregnancies ended in abortion. Of all the women in the U.S. who are having sex and not trying to get pregnant, two-thirds of them use birth control consistently and correctly—and those birth control superstars account for only 5% of unplanned pregnancies. The other 95% of unplanned pregnancies were to the third of U.S. women who weren’t trying to get pregnant but weren’t using birth control or were using it incorrectly or inconsistently.