A significant drop in out-of-pocket spending for oral contraceptives and intrauterine devices (IUDs) has been evident since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed a sample consisting of 17.6 million monthly observations for 790,895 women aged 13–45 years who were enrolled in private health insurance for at least one month from 2008–2013. The team discovered that the average out-of-pocket cost for a prescription oral contraceptive decreased 38% from $32.74 in the first six months of 2012 to $20.37 in the first six months of 2013. Also, out-of-pocket expenses for an intrauterine device (IUD) insertion dropped 68% from $262.38 to $84.30.

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The ACA seems to be saving the average woman taking oral contraceptives $255 per year and $248 per year for the average woman receiving an IUD. Decreases in spending were also seen for other contraception forms, including emergency contraception (93%), diaphragms and cervical caps (84%), implants (72%), injections (68%), transdermal patches (3%), and vaginal rings (2%).

Under the ACA, private health insurance plans must cover prescription contraceptives with no consumer cost-sharing. The study authors, however, saw that the average out-of-pocket spending stayed above zero because not all brands of contraceptive devices are required to covered with zero cost sharing, and some women in the data were part of grandfathered plans that were not yet subject to the mandate or whose employers did not participate for religious reasons.

For more information visit UPenn.edu.