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Expanded Prescription Contraceptive Supply

February 7, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jill Barnas

Executive Summary 

Prescription contraceptives (e.g., oral pill, rings, patches, and shots) are the most widely used form of contraceptive. Currently, the majority of health insurance plans cover only a 1–3 month supply of prescription contraceptives at a time. When individuals have difficulty obtaining their prescription refills due to various financial and insurance barriers, they may experience gaps in use, stop using contraceptives altogether, and may have increased risk for unintended pregnancies. Senate Bill 641 would require health insurance carriers that include coverage for contraceptives to increase the quantity covered in a prescription to a yearlong supply.

Highlights 

  • In the United States, approximately 27% of women in their reproductive years live in a “contraceptive desert,” meaning they lack access to all forms of birth control.
  • In 2019, 14.8% of Missouri women between the ages of 19-44 years old did not have private or public health insurance coverage.
  • Increasing supply of contraceptives to one year’s worth has been shown to be cost-effective, increase contraceptive adherence, and reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions.
  • Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. have varying policies expanding contraceptive distribution and supply. 

Limitations

  • The number of women residing in “contraceptive deserts” within Missouri is unknown.
  • Increased contraceptive supply does not guarantee use and may lead to increased contraceptive waste.
  • More research is needed to identify effective strategies to reduce disparities in unintended pregnancy and contraception access.
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