The recent presidential election caused an uproar for women across the country. One of the biggest concerns is how our access to birth control might change throughout the next few years.
President Donald Trump and his administration have been very vocal about repealing the Affordable Care Act, along with its mandate that insurers offer birth control at no cost, including contraception and intrauterine devices. Women nationwide are scrambling for appointments with their gynecologist to talk about the possibility of a long-term contraceptive solution such as an IUD (intrauterine device) while the cost is still covered.
The panic isn’t necessarily inappropriate, especially since Republican-controlled Congress has been very vocal about the limitations they want to apply on birth control. Women have been contemplating many different methods to ensure that they are protected, but the question is how they should proceed. Dr. Sophia Yen, adolescent medicine specialist and CEO of startup Pandia Health, shared her experience on how the election results have affected patients’ thought processes in regards to their future.
“A woman asked me the other day, ‘Should I get my IUD out now? It still has 2 years more [of] medicine in it. Should I get a new one placed just so I can make it through this administration?’ I told her, ‘No.’ No provider should take out a good IUD and put in a new one just to ‘ride out this administration’ since it’s an unnecessary procedure and wasting medication.”
Within the last two years, many states such as California, Vermont, Illinois, and Maryland have passed their own laws requiring the availability of cost-free birth control methods. Originally, these states passed the law just to further guarantee full access to reproductive health benefits. But recently President Trump signed an executive order that reiterates how states can “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the [Affordable Care] Act,” supposedly lessening the financial burden of Obamacare on Americans, insurers, and healthcare providers and granting them more flexibility.
With this in full effect, religious non-profit insurance carriers have the ability to opt out of paying for birth control, meaning women would need to pay out of pocket prices for their birth control pills, patch, injections, or IUD. This ironically could cause a financial burden on many individuals, since the price tag can be upwards of $150.
Many states are taking it into their own hands to make birth control easily obtainable, despite what happens with the Trump administration’s policies. New York governor Andrew Cuomo is taking action in support of women’s reproductive rights so that women will be completely covered under their commercial insurance, and contraceptive drugs and devices will be obtainable at no cost. It will be the back-up plan in reproductive coverage for New Yorkers in case President Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act completely. It remains to be seen if other states will take similar regulatory action in the coming months.
This overall panic also stems from the fact that many believed these changes will immediately be enforced, but in reality, Congress has to take a few more steps before they completely repeal the ACA and enforce new laws. Repealing the ACA without a replacement health insurance coverage plan in place is causing many people to worry too, even Republicans.
This means the ACA will still be in effect until the administration either works to repeal it, which can take weeks to months, or comes up with an acceptable, passable replacement option, which also may take the same amount of time. Regardless, women still have time to make rational decisions and seek advice from a medical professional about their best reproductive health options. We can expect a change, but we can all sleep a bit easier knowing it won’t happen overnight.