Health and Science

Donald Trump's 'birth control effect': IUD implants rose on heels of presidential election that could end Obamacare

An Intrauterine device (IUD).
BSIP | UIG | Getty Images

There's just something about Donald Trump that makes women rush to get birth control.

New data show that the number of women who received IUD birth control devices spiked on the heels of Trump's election as president, which could reflect concerns about the costs women would have to personally pay for those devices if Obamacare is repealed.

Between October and December, doctor office visits that were coded for either insertions or management of intrauterine devices rose by about 19 percent, according to Athenainsight, a division of the cloud-based record-keeping and medical billing company Athenahealth.

It was the first time in years that IUD procedures and follow-up visits increased in both November and December, according to the company.

IUDs are implanted devices that cost more than birth control pills, but which last for years and which are much more effective at preventing pregnancies than the pill.

Women with health insurance who have IUDs inserted now do not — as a result of a provision in the Obamacare health-care reform law — have to pay for the devices out of pocket. Instead, their insurance plan covers 100 percent of the cost.

But if Obamacare is repealed, as the Republican president wants to do, women might have to pay out of pocket for IUD use, and for other birth control methods. Polls have shown strong support for the Obamacare provision that bars out-of-pocket costs on people who buy birth control covered by an insurance plan.

Athenahealth noted that birth control pills can cost anywhere from $160 to $600 annually, while IUDs can cost between $500 and $1,000 for initial insertion, but are longer lasting.

The increases in IUD-related visits were seen in "counties that leaned both Democratic and Republican in the 2016 presidential election," according to a summary of the findings published by Athenahealth, which examined 1 million patient visits to 85,000 health providers in the company's network.

"It certainly looks like some women are concerned that full coverage for contraceptive services will be more expensive for them, and so are getting IUDs without cost while they still can," said Josh Gray, vice president of AthenaResearch, the data arm of Athenahealth, in that summary.

The same summary quoted Dr. Eve Espey, chair of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology's work group on long-acting reversible contraceptives, which includes IUDs.

"While I certainly hope birth control methods will be readily available under the Trump administration, I can understand women's concern over losing such access, particularly to high-cost methods," Esprey said.