Yes, there already are some options for more affordable contraception, such as public clinics or Planned Parenthood.
About 55 percent of local health departments offer some family planning services, according to the National Association of County & City Health Officials. Many of those receive federal Title X funding, which means they can offer contraception on a sliding fee scale. The poorest women may get it free, while others may pay full price or somewhere in between.
There are cheaper generic pills. Peipert says there’s little difference between them and pricey new brand-name versions like Yaz.
But some women go through a number of brands before finding one that doesn’t cause uncomfortable side effects, says Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Her organization operates a website, http://www.bedsider.org, that details options along with the price range.
“Not every woman can use generic pills, by any means,” Brown says. “Do we say to people, ‘Just go get generic cardiac medicines. Hope that works out for you?’”
Peipert notes that contraception is cheaper than what insurers or taxpayer-funded Medicaid pay for prenatal care and delivery. He says economic studies have found that every $1 spent on family planning can save nearly $4 in expenditures on unintended pregnancy.
Do women ask about the price?
“Oh, my gosh, absolutely,” exclaims obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Monica Dragoman of New York’s Montefiore Medical Center.
Just last week, she saw a woman whose heart condition could make another pregnancy life-threatening but who couldn’t afford the IUD that Dragoman wanted to prescribe, and chose a cheaper option.
If a family’s struggling financially, “sometimes contraception is one of the first things to fall off,” Dragoman says.
• Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for the Associated Press in Washington.
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