• Wed, Mar 28 2012

Infographic: The High Cost Of Birth Control

birth control infographic

Probably one of the biggest and most damaging pieces of misinformation swirling around during this whole reproductive health debate is that birth control is inexpensive. And whether or not you think that it should be covered by insurance (like every other kind of medicine is), the fact remains that birth control, in all of its various forms, costs a lot of money. And that cost is, the majority of the time, absorbed by women–who already pay more for health insurance.

As many as 10,700,000 women in the United States rely on the birth control pill alone, and just a fraction use it for non-contraceptive reasons. The rest use it either for partially or entirely contraceptive purposes, which means in states like Arizona, it wouldn’t be covered by their health care provider, and they would be forced to purchase it out-of-pocket–and in states like Texas, where low-cost women’s health care has become virtually non-existent, that can become a financial burden.

But, because of its many generic iterations, the Pill is actually one of the more affordable options. The Nuva Ring and the Ortho Evra Path, both of which work better for women who prefer not to take a pill at the same time every single day, have no generic available, and can cost twice as much as the pill itself.

Our wonderful and talented graphic designer, Emma Charlton, put together this excellent infographic, based on facts from Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, to help illustrate the differences in cost of various methods–and to show just how much women are playing each year, out of their own pockets.

Image: Emma Charlton

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  • Tahadden

    65 year olds on the pill really

    • Hanna Brooks Olsen

      Yes, this may shock you, but 65 year olds still have sex. Additionally, 65 years old is still considered “of childbearing age.” If a woman hasn’t yet gone through menopause, she can still get pregnant–and, at that age, it can be very problematic, health-wise. So yes. 65-year-olds on the pill.

    • self help

      If a 65 year old woman is still menstruating, I think she might need to see a doctor.

    • Tahadden

      The Infographic implies that all women would use the pill 18 to 65. It also implies that all men would use a condom every day for 18 to 65, which is not the rate I have found in my expeariance, and at 65 is no longer able to father childern. Makes one fear SS.

  • Rachel

    I’m not saying that women don’t have the right to affordable options for birth control. Or that it’s okay for insurance companies to deny BC coverage when women are paying premiums for it; but some of the issues with the whole BC debate are a bit overblown.

    As an adult female, it’s my job to be responsible and provide myself with the health products that I feel my body requires. If this means birth control (pills), than as an adult, I need to pay the money (or arrange have insurance) for this product. When I first graduated from university I did not find a job that provided insurance right away, so I had to budget my pay cheque to purchase that necessity. That’s what responsible adults do. If I had not been able to afford that option, I would have had to buy condoms (a much cheaper option).

    All adults who want to have an active sex life have the responsibility of providing themselves with the health/safety products that surround that choice. Those things cost money.

    Taking away access is one thing, but complaining about the cost, to me, is not a practical argument.

    • Hanna Brooks Olsen

      This isn’t a complaint, it’s just noting that one of the main arguments against providing birth control to low-income women and through health care is that all women can afford it. When, in fact, they cannot. Additionally, condoms require the consent of the partner, which, in cases of domestic violence, is not the case.

  • Emily E.

    There are lots of inaccuracies in this post. One, not all IUD’s last for for 10 years. Mirena, which is by far the IUD most prescribed in the US, lasts for 5 years. The IUD that lasts 10 years is made of copper and is very different. Also, saying the pill costs between 10-50 dollars a month is VERY conservative. Lots of generic pills cost 60$ a month without insurance, and the name brand pills cost as much as 100 or 120$ a month.

    • Hanna Brooks Olsen

      It’s true, it should say “up to 10 years.” But such is the nature of infographics. Additionally, this is the information for price that Planned Parenthood gives out for the cost of drugs–but I wouldn’t be even remotely surprised to hear that they’re more expensive. I’ve used generics that are $30/month, but some are definitely more pricey than that.

  • CH

    I pay $99 out-of-pocket for my birth control pills. Per month.

    • self help

      You’re being ripped off. My friend who is uninsured gets her pills for $10 a month at Planned Parenthood.

  • Leslie Palma

    Where on earth is a 65-year-old considered of child-bearing age?

    By the time my third child is out of braces, I will have forked over $17,500 out of pocket to the orthodontist. Braces are not covered in my policy. That’s true for many people.

    My glasses, now that I am 53 and out of my child-bearing years, are progressive bifocals. They run about $400-$600 a pair. I get about $50 reimbursement for them. Two of my kids wear contacts, and that’s $70 every three months each. Not covered.

    I agree with Rachel. Grown-up life is expensive, and grown-ups have to learn to budget.

    All this in addition to the fact that the Pill is bad for women and bad for the environment. And it doesn’t prevent STD infection. We were a safe-sex crazed nation in the latter part of the 20th century. Are we now assuming AIDS has been vanquished?

  • Lo

    It’s upsetting that the antiquate notion “The Rhythm Method” is lumped together with things like the patch and the ring. Missing completely from this graphic is the Fertility Awareness Method. Yes, it requires more thought than popping a pill each day, but with the health hazards associated with hormonal birth control of any kind, I think this option is something worth exploring and should be something all women educate themselves about! It’s empowering to be informed about your own body. And the cost? $30, for a basal thermometer and this book. http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Charge-Fertility-Anniversary-Edition/dp/0060881909

    • Amy

      Excellent point. NFP gets brushed aside in debates about the cost of birth control. It can be 99 % accurate when done correctly. And nearly free.

  • dspillai

    65 year olds who are having symptomatic menopause can be prescribed a combination hormones (found in oral contraceptives) to help with their symptoms

  • julie

    65 year old taking a hormone pill may not necessarily be for birth control. a 65 year old woman’s ovaries probably aren’t working really good. the hormones in the pill will help supplement some of the lost hormones. 65 year probably could carry and have a child?
    But with the birth control pills-the only thing that makes since that the insurance don’t cover it -generics. are very cheap. you can get a pack for about 15 dollars.

  • julie

    if generic pills cost ten dollars (and rite aid has a pharmacy plan that covers a lot of generic pills) then name brand pills -some of them- can’t cost more than 40 or 50 a month. that’s a small price to pay.

    • c

      name brand pills can cost $100 a month without insurance. That is a huge price to pay considering all the other expenses a woman has. Something that is needed daily to protect yourself shouldn’t cost 50-100 dollars a month.

  • Karen

    I would like to see this post edited to clarify some points and to increase the credibility. The issue I have is that the article states only a fraction, meaning a slim minority, take the pill for non-contraceptive reasons. What exactlt is the percentage of those using the pill for non-contraceptive purposes? I’ve heard it’s somewhere over 40%. What percentage of women over 60 use the pill? Personally, I think birth control should be covered under health insurance and to use the moral issue as a defense in not allowing it under health insurance is not good enough. Morally, why should anyone be covered at all then? Diabetes could be controlled by diet. Cirrhosis of the liver could be controlled or prevented by not drinking. Lung cancer could be prevented by not smoking. Obesity could be prevented or controlled by healthier eating. Impotence could be managed as well. Most every health issue involves choices which determine our health. To target birth control as not meeting moral criteria is ludicrous as well as disingenious.