NPR : News

Filed Under:

Convenient Methods For Birth Control Take More Work For Payment

Free contraception has sure been a hot topic lately. But there's still one facet that hasn't received much attention.

Religious leaders and politicians have debated whether requiring employers to cover prescription birth control for employees gratis — as required under the health care overhaul — tramples on religious freedom.

But what about over-the-counter methods like condoms, spermicides and contraceptive sponges?

Those methods aren't generally as effective as oral contraceptives, IUDs or hormonal implants. But they have the advantage of convenience, they're easier than other methods to employ on the spur of the moment.

The largest proportion of women — about 28 percent — use oral contraceptives. Only about 5.5 percent use highly effective alternatives like the IUD and hormonal implants. These methods have high up-front costs, though they're cost-effective in the long run.

And women's health advocates expect more women will choose them once price isn't a factor. Still, some 10 percent of women use over-the-counter birth control.

But insurers often don't cover these methods unless people get a prescription for them. And that requires thinking ahead. "It loses the convenience factor," says Adam Sonfield, a senior policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research center on reproductive policy.

Of course, making something inconvenient means people may be less likely to take advantage of a benefit, like free contraceptives. "Insurers are betting that a lot of their clients are going to use contraception anyway," says Sonfield.

Copyright 2012 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit


Heroic Women In Strong Poses: Serena Williams, Amy Schumer In Pirelli Calendar

"Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman." — that's how comedian Amy Schumer sums up this year's Pirelli calendar.

High-Sodium Warnings Hit New York City Menus

The city is the first in the nation to require a sodium warning on menu items containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more. The rule applies to chain restaurants with 15 or more locations.

Paris Climate Talks Face A Familiar Hurdle — American Politics

The U.S. and China are the world's two largest polluters, but in both countries, the will to do something about climate change is lower than the rest of the world. In the U.S., there's a party split.
WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.