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Transparency About Abortion Coverage Still Lacking, but Achievable

July 6, 2015 Comments off

Transparency About Abortion Coverage Still Lacking, but Achievable
Source: Guttmacher Institute

Individuals purchasing coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance marketplaces may have difficulty finding consistent, clear information on whether a plan includes or excludes abortion coverage. However, transparency about abortion coverage is both necessary and achievable, according to a new analysis published in the Guttmacher Policy Review.

Under the ACA, insurance plans are neither required to nor prohibited from covering abortion. However, 25 states prohibit coverage of abortion on their health insurance marketplaces. In the remaining states and the District of Columbia, issuers can offer plans that cover abortion care beyond the narrow instances of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is endangered. But a new Guttmacher analysis of publicly available 2015 plan documents in these states found the vast majority of plans do not include information on whether and to what extent abortion is covered. Among the minority of issuers that do address abortion coverage, the way the information is provided varies considerably and is not always useful.

Rounding Out the Contraceptive Coverage Guarantee: Why ‘Male’ Contraceptive Methods Matter for Everyone

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Rounding Out the Contraceptive Coverage Guarantee: Why ‘Male’ Contraceptive Methods Matter for Everyone
Source: Guttmacher Institute

Highlights

• Contraceptive methods used by men—currently, vasectomy and male condoms—provide preventive health benefits for women, by helping them to prevent unplanned pregnancies and space wanted ones.
• Vasectomy and condoms were left out of the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of contraceptive coverage without out-of-pocket costs, despite their proven health benefits and long history of inclusion in other public and private programs.
• There are multiple potential pathways to rectify this oversight, most notably state-level actions to clarify and expand the ACA’s guarantee, and new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; however, all of those have obstacles.

U.S. Abortion Reporting Systems Should Be Strengthened, Not Subverted to Promote Antiabortion Agenda

June 30, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Abortion Reporting Systems Should Be Strengthened, Not Subverted to Promote Antiabortion Agenda
Source: Guttmacher Institute

The current U.S. abortion surveillance system yields reliable statistics on abortion incidence and patient characteristics, thanks to the joint efforts of state and federal governments and the Guttmacher Institute. Still, a new analysis in the Guttmacher Policy Review argues that this system should be strengthened in two key ways: First, the state and federal governments should collect data in a more complete and timely manner. Second, government abortion surveillance at the state and federal levels must be focused solely on collecting basic incidence and demographic data needed for legitimate public health purposes.

While very effective in informing public health policies and programs, the current U.S. abortion surveillance system is a patchwork. Most states report aggregate abortion data to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but reporting from some of them is incomplete and California, Maryland and New Hampshire do not report to the CDC at all. The Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that funds its abortion surveillance work through private sources, supplements these government collection efforts through its own periodic census of abortion providers and survey of abortion patients.

Reproductive Health — Trends in the States: First Quarter 2015

April 7, 2015 Comments off

Trends in the States: First Quarter 2015
Source: Guttmacher Institute

By the end of the first quarter of the year, legislators had introduced 791 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Nearly 42% of these provisions (332 provisions) seek to restrict access to abortion services; abortion restrictions have been introduced in 43 states. By April 1, 53 abortion restrictions had been approved by a legislative chamber, and nine had been enacted. Many of the new abortion restrictions enacted this year would either limit the use of medication abortion (Arkansas and Idaho) or ban abortion at 20 weeks postfertilization (West Virginia), a disturbing combination of attempts to curtail access in both the early and later months of pregnancy, potentially leaving women with fewer options and a greatly reduced time frame to get the care they need.

Unintended Pregnancies Cost Federal and State Governments $21 Billion In 2010

March 18, 2015 Comments off

Unintended Pregnancies Cost Federal and State Governments $21 Billion In 2010
Source: Guttmacher Institute

U.S. government expenditures on births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21 billion in 2010, according to “Public Costs from Unintended Pregnancies and the Role of Public Insurance Programs in Paying for Pregnancy-Related Care: National and State Estimates for 2010,” by Adam Sonfield and Kathryn Kost. In 19 states, public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies exceeded $400 million in 2010. Texas spent the most ($2.9 billion), followed by California ($1.8 billion), New York ($1.5 billion) and Florida ($1.3 billion); those four states are also the nation’s most populous.

Unplanned Births Associated With Less Prenatal Care and Worse Infant Health, Compared With Planned Births

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Unplanned Births Associated With Less Prenatal Care and Worse Infant Health, Compared With Planned Births
Source: Guttmacher Institute

Compared with women having planned births, those who have unplanned births are less likely to recognize their pregnancy early, to receive early prenatal care or to breast-feed, and are more likely to have low-birth-weight babies, according to “Pregnancy Intentions, Maternal Behaviors and Infant Health: Investigating Relationships with New Measures and Propensity Score Analysis,” by Kathryn Kost and Laura Lindberg. The study examines the associations between U.S. mothers’ pregnancy intentions, their pregnancy-related health behaviors and their infants’ health at birth.

“Almost 40% of the four million annual births in the United States result from an unintended pregnancy,” says study author Kathryn Kost. “Our study found that births from unintended pregnancies are disadvantaged relative to births from intended ones. During and immediately following pregnancy, women with unplanned births are less likely to receive early prenatal care or to breast-feed the infant and are more likely to have infants with poorer health at birth. Enabling women to prevent an unintended pregnancy is a way to improve the health of children.”

Between 2006 and 2010, Unintended Pregnancy Rates Declined in a Majority of States

February 25, 2015 Comments off

Between 2006 and 2010, Unintended Pregnancy Rates Declined in a Majority of States
Source: Guttmacher Institute

In 2010, more than half of all pregnancies were unintended in 28 states; in the remainder of states, a minimum of 36% of pregnancies were unintended, according to “Unintended Pregnancy Rates at the State Level: Estimates for 2010 and Trends Since 2002,” by Kathryn Kost. In most states, unintended pregnancy rates were within the range of 40 to 55 per 1,000 women aged 15–44; the states with the highest unintended pregnancy rates were Delaware (62), Hawaii and New York (61 each), and the lowest rate was in New Hampshire (32). Unintended pregnancy rates were generally highest in the South (Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia) and Southwest (Texas, New Mexico), and in densely populated states (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York).

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