Changes in state prescription contraceptive mandates for insurers: the effect on women's contraceptive use.
CONTEXT: Access to effective contraceptives is critical to reducing levels of unintended childbearing in the United States. Since 1998, more than half the states have passed legislation requiring insurers that cover prescription drugs to cover prescription contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration. An assessment of the impact of these laws on women's contraceptive use is needed to determine whether such policies are effective. METHODS: Information was collected on state contraceptive coverage policies, and contraceptive use data among women at risk of unintended pregnancy were drawn from Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys conducted between 1998 and 2010. Logit regression analysis was used to calculate the marginal effects of state contraceptive coverage laws on insured and uninsured women's use of prescription methods. RESULTS: Insured women who lived in a state with a contraceptive coverage law were 5% more likely than their counterparts in states without such laws to use an effective method (i.e., a prescription method, condoms or sterilization). Among women who used such methods, those in contraceptive coverage states were 5% more likely than women in other states to use any prescription method, and 4% more likely to use the pill. No associations were found between contraceptive mandates and method use by uninsured women. Among both users and nonusers, contraceptive coverage was associated with a 5% increase in pill use. CONCLUSIONS: Contraceptive coverage mandates appear to play a role in increasing the use of prescription contraceptives among insured women, and hence may help to reduce the numbers of unintended pregnancies.
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