August 2, 2011
Will Forcing Insurance Companies To Cover Birth Control Actually Save Money?

Amanda Marcotte thinks so:

Republican-driven political discourse of late has been about nothing but the importance of cutting spending and saving money, and so the GOP should be delighted with this simple and clear-cut promise of long-term savings by making contraception free. The IOM report indicated that the direct medical cost of unintended pregnancy in 2002 was $5 billion, with a savings from contraception that year estimated at $19.3 billion. With nearly half of U.S. pregnancies unintended, there’s quite a bit of room to save money with free contraception…

These new contraception regulations will pay for themselves easily in the short term by reducing the insurance payouts that come along with unintended pregnancies, but insurance companies should expect long-term savings. When children are planned, children are cheaper. As the Guttmacher noted (PDF) in its testimony on these proposed regulations, improved contraception use means women space out their pregnancies more, and putting some time in between pregnancies leads to better birth outcomes with lower medical costs. In addition, women who plan their pregnancies tend to get better prenatal care and are more likely to breast-feed, two behaviors that improve children’s health outcomes and reduce overall long-term health-care costs.

Marcotte adds that rising abortion rates during the recession indicate an increase in unplanned pregnancies, which she links to the fact that women are skimping on birth control for financial reasons.  Forcing insurance companies to cover this expense means they pay less in the long run for babies that don’t exist.

Sullivan has more.

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