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Prescription Contraceptive Sales Following the Affordable Care Act

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Objectives We examine trends in prescription contraceptive sales following the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) zero-copayment contraceptive coverage mandate in areas more likely to be affected by the provision relative to areas less likely to be affected. Methods Before the ACA, several states had their own contraceptive insurance coverage mandates. Using a national prescription claims database combined with wholesaler institutional sales activity from January 2008 through June 2014, we compare sales of the intrauterine device (IUD), implant, injectable, pill, ring, and patch in states that had a state-level insurance coverage mandate before the ACA to states that did not. Results Overall, our results imply the ACA increased sales of prescription contraceptives, with stronger effects for some methods than others. Specifically, we find the ACA increased sales of injectable contraceptives, but had no significant impact on sales of the IUD, implant, pill, or patch in states without a state-level mandate before the ACA relative to states that had a state-level mandate. We also find suggestive evidence of a reduction in sales of the ring. Conclusions for Practice Demand responses to changes in out-of-pocket expenses for contraception vary across methods. Eliminating copays could promote the use of contraceptives, but is not the only approach to increasing contraceptive utilization.

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Fig. 1

Source Symphony Health Solutions’ Pharmaceutical Audit Suite (PHAST), January 2008–June 2014

Fig. 2

Source Symphony Health Solutions’ Pharmaceutical Audit Suite (PHAST), January 2008–June 2014. Note that these two graphs are scaled differently to clearly show differences in trends


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Correspondence to Lindsey Rose Bullinger.

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Bullinger, L.R., Simon, K. Prescription Contraceptive Sales Following the Affordable Care Act. Matern Child Health J 23, 657–666 (2019).

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