More than three quarters, or 77%, of reproductive-aged women would support over-the-counter birth control pills that don’t require a prescription from a physician, provided that research proves the pills safe and effective, a new survey shows.
“Oral contraceptives are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception in the U.S., and studies suggest that [over-the-counter] access would increase use of contraception and facilitate continuity of use in addition to saving time spent on travel, at a doctor’s office, and off work,” the report stated.
Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2022 Women’s Health Survey, released last week, includes a sample of 5,201 people who said they were assigned female at birth. It was conducted online from May 10 to June 7.
The survey comes as the Food and Drug Administration considers approving Perrigo’s contraceptive pill called Opill for over-the-counter use. However, the FDA recently postponed a meeting to discuss the contraceptive. Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are in favor of over-the-counter oral contraceptive pills, KFF said.
If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, 39% of respondents said they would be likely to actually use over-the-counter birth control pills that don’t require a prescription. This is higher among those who currently use oral contraceptives, at 60%.
The main factor behind why women want over-the-counter birth control pills is convenience, the survey found. Almost 60% listed this as a reason, while 15% said it would be faster. Another 8% said they don’t want to have a physical or pelvic exam, 7% said it would be more confidential, 6% said it would save money and 3% said they don’t want to use their health insurance.
Of those who are unlikely to use over-the-counter birth control pills — or are unsure if they would —53% said it’s because they don’t currently use birth control pills or don’t plan to in the future. Another 16% said they would rather talk to a provider before starting or refilling contraceptives.
Women who would use over-the-counter contraceptives are not willing to pay big bucks for them, the survey also found. Nearly 40% said they would be “willing and able to pay” up to $10 per month.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most private health insurance plans are required to cover FDA-approved birth control, but it must be prescribed. However, 41% of women at reproductive age are not aware of this. About 70% of women with private insurance said their health plan fully covered their birth control, but about a quarter said they had to pay some out-of-pocket.
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