The economics of birth control
Although the Affordable Health Care Act won’t fully go into effect until 2014, women have already started to benefit from it.
The Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, gives women coverage for preventive services such as well-woman visits, contraception, STD screening and domestic violence counseling.
Coverage for birth control pills has been one of the most heated debates in Congress. When compared to economic issues like debt and unemployment, its importance has been questioned. But according to Finn Christenson, a professor in the Department of Economics at Towson, birth control has several economic ramifications.
In Christenson’s presentation on Oct. 16, he noted that the birth control pill has effects on four main aspects of life: fertility and timing of births, education and career decisions, marriage decisions and outcomes of children.
“The pill could affect birth timing but not completed fertility,” Christenson said.
The first birth control pill called Enovid was approved for use in 1960, but different states had different laws regarding the age at which women could gain access. A study by Elizabeth Ananat and Daniel Hungerman in 2010 showed that early legal access to the pill increased the number of women with college degrees. It even contributed to an increase in men’s completion of bachelor’s degrees by 0.75 percent.
Because of the pill, women can delay having children and be active in the workforce. Christenson noted that 10 percent of the reduced gender wage gap in the 1980’s was due solely to the pill. And then there’s the effect on the dating game. The pill makes dating more care-free and fun, so people take longer to settle down and get married, according to Christenson. This explains reduced marriage and divorce rates and also increased premarital cohabitation rates, he said.
“Early legal access to the pill can explain almost a third of the observed increase in first spouse premarital cohabitation,” Christenson said.
Overall, the birth control pill creates more stable families. Planned families with fewer children can spend more quality time together, and higher household incomes give children more opportunities. Children born from 1958 to 1965 into families who used birth control had 1.5 percent higher family incomes as adults than those who didn’t. Covering birth control under insurance provides numerous benefits, but the question is whether or not it is the government’s job to pay for this.
“It should be covered because it would prevent unwanted pregnancies and due to how much it could be, people can’t afford it since the government is in a recession,” freshman Kayla Frohlich said. Frohlich isn’t the only one who’s concerned about the cost of birth control without insurance coverage.
“So many girls use it and it can become expensive,” freshman Justin Fleiss said.
Before Obamacare, 52 percent of all women in the United States reported that they avoided medical care because of the high cost. Now, 20.4 million women in the United States have access to gynecologists’ services, according to the Center for American Progress.