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Most Americans Favor Contraceptives Required in Health Plans

birth control pills


22 April 2014. A nationwide survey shows about 7 in 10 Americans support birth control medications being required in health insurance plans. The survey, conducted in November 2013 by a team at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is reported today online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Affordable Care Act includes a provision requiring employers to include coverage for contraceptives as part of their basic health care plans for employees. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case where a company claimed covering some birth control techniques violated the owners’ religious principles.

The sample of 2,124 adults, age 18 and over, was drawn from a nationwide panel assembled by the market research firm GfK Custom Research North America. Participants in the survey were asked the following question: “Do you think that all health plans in the United States should be required to include coverage for the following services:” followed by a list of medical services. Respondents were asked to indicate Yes, No, Uncertain, or Refuse to Answer. Those answering Yes were recorded as agreement; No or Uncertain responses were recorded as disagreement.

Some 7 in 10 respondents (69%) agree that health plans be required to cover birth control medications. More respondents, however, favor health plans being required to cover other kinds of medical services.

 Percentage in favor of required coverage in health plans

  • 85% – Preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies
  • 84% – Recommended vaccinations
  • 82% – Preventive screening tests for diabetes and high cholesterol
  • 77% – Mental health care
  • 75% – Dental/tooth care including dental cleanings and tooth problems
  • 69% – Birth control medications

At least six in 10 respondents across gender, age, education, ethnic, and income groups are in favor of mandated coverage of birth control medications. Those most in favor of mandating coverage of contraceptives in health plans are women, African-Americans, Hispanics, parents with children under the age of 18, and adults with private or public health insurance coverage.

Less than 10 percent of respondents favored requiring the other medical services in health insurance plans, but not birth control medications. People in this group, say the authors, are more likely to be those least directly affected by the policy: men, over the age of 60, and without children in the household.

“Understanding public views on this issue is vitally important to medical and public health efforts to reduce unplanned pregnancy in the U.S.,” says lead author, Michelle Moniz, an OB-GYN specialist at Michigan’s medical school in a university statement. “Our findings suggest that a policy requiring all health insurance plans to cover birth control medications is consistent with the beliefs of the majority of Americans.”

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