Politics

Why Women Are Getting IUDs as Fast as They Can

January 26th 2017

By:
Lucy Tiven

With the Affordable Care Act on the chopping block, women may soon be facing massive costs for birth control devices.

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The ACA, better known as Obamacare, requires insurance plans to cover certain types of preventative care, including intrauterine devices (IUDs), a reversible long-term birth control method re-popularized in the last decade. 

A repeal of the healthcare law may jeopardize this coverage — and the out-of-pocket cost of an IUD could end up being around $1,000, health data analysis company Amino reports.

“Since the election I have been very freaked out and scared,” 29-year old Rebecca Phemister said in a call with ATTN:. “I decided to get an IUD when I considered the prospect of the next 4 years. Thankfully my insurance covered it and I had it placed right before the inauguration.” Phemister lives in Ohio, where Republican Governor John Kasich signed an 20-week abortion ban into law in December. The bill will go into effect in March.

“I am more at ease personally but I am still worried about other women currently covered under the ACA,” she added. “What will happen to these women's coverage? It's really messed up that it is 2017 and we are even talking about this.”

IUDs, in brief.

IUDs are small, "T-shaped" devices inserted into the uterus by health care providers.

IUD

There are both hormonal (Mirena, Skyla) and non-hormonal (Paragard) IUDs available. Health professionals often advise women with certain cancer histories to avoid hormonal birth control; the non-hormonal IUD lasts longer, but can also exacerbate cramps and intensify one's menstrual cycle, as reporter Rachel Sanoff details over on Bustle

The Amino report maps out post-ACA median costs for a Mirena IUD, the most popular device according to May research from the company.

Mirena costs

The report's authors divide the costs into four categories: the insertion procedure, a doctor's visit, the device, and "other estimated costs." 

Under the ACA, the device itself, which comprises the bulk of the financial burden, is covered. In many cases, related follow-ups with doctors are also covered, according to the Kaiser Foundation.

Amino breaks down an average Mirena bill:

  • Estimated cost for the IUD device: $839

  • Estimated cost for the procedure: $107

  • Estimated cost for office visit: $91

  • Other estimated costs: $74

The Amino report comes after congressional Republicans voted through a plan to dismantle parts of the ACA through an arcane budget-reconciliation process.

Since then...

In his first day in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order pledging a speedy repeal of Obamacare and granting federal agencies and states additional leeway to gut parts of the law before a replacement is passed.

Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA) and Susan Collins (ME) introduced a replacement bill this week that would let states keep portions of the ACA if they like. States could also go the other way: An amendment to a bill passed in the Minnesota House last week would gut coverage for a wide range of pre-existing conditions if the ACA is repealed.

The fight over Obamacare comes amid intense anxiety among advocates of women's reproductive rights over the new White House.

Concerns about access to abortion, birth control, and contraceptives crystallized not just in nationwide marches, but in women pledging to get IUDs before Republicans scrap the ACA.

Mirena and Paragard offer six and 12 years of contraception, respectively, meaning women who get them today will be covered for most if not all of the Trump administration.