Obamacare as of August 2012 has mandated that insurance plans not impose copayments, coinsurance expenditures or other cost-sharing requirements on women when they obtain birth control. Instead, the plan is required to fully cover the costs of contraception.
However, a sizable minority of privately insured people were in plans grandfathered under Obamacare in 2013. Those plans thus are not subject to the mandate barring out-of-pocket birth control spending.
So, "while some women were still paying large amounts out of pocket for their contraception, the majority of women were paying nothing by June 2013," the report said.
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And because the grandfathered plans since 2013 are being phased out, and replaced by ACA-compliant plans, even fewer women will be paying anything out of pocket for birth control in coming years, leading to greater savings overall.
"This paper finds some very dramatic impacts despite the fact that the law isn't fully implemented yet," said Nora Becker, one of the authors of the Health Affairs study, and a MD/PhD candidate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
One impact which Becker cited was the sharp reduction in women's overall out-of-pocket spending on health care. Before the ACA, she said, women were spending between 30 and 44 percent of their total out-of-pocket health costs just on birth control.
That said, insurance plans can theoretically recoup the costs from having to cover birth control 100 percent by increasing the monthly premiums they charge customers. However, Becker noted that contraception can actually save insurance plans money because it reduces the incidence of costly pregnancies and child deliveries.