New research shows that insurance coverage of contraception is a significant factor in young women's decisions about contraceptive use and method selection in Massachusetts

May 2010

May 5, 2010 – New research from Ibis Reproductive Health shows that insurance coverage of contraception is a significant factor in young women's decisions about contraceptive use and method selection in Massachusetts. 

A report released today summarizes the key findings from a series of focus group discussions held with diverse young adults, ages 18 to 26, from across the Commonwealth. In addition to being unclear about their own health insurance coverage, participants demonstrated a lack of knowledge about the various provisions of the new health care reform law, which took effect in 2007, including those directly targeting young adults. Many study participants were unaware of provisions that would provide temporary coverage during transitions such as graduating from college or starting a new job. Many participants also lacked knowledge about the full range of contraceptive options. All of these factors affect young adults' access to and consistent use of effective methods of contraception. "For many young adults, accessing health care is synonymous with accessing contraceptive services," said lead author Dr. Danielle Bessett. "Our participants expressed overwhelming interest in getting more information about contraception and in having resources to help them navigate contraceptive coverage in the wake of health care reform." 

The study also found that several sub-populations of young adults face significant barriers to accessing contraceptive care, including enrollees in plans without a prescription drug benefit, university students, especially those at religiously-affiliated institutions, and temporarily uninsured young adults. "Health care reform in the Commonwealth has undoubtedly provided young adults with important new options for accessing reproductive health services. However, this study highlights a number of the gaps in the current system and suggests systems-level changes that could improve access to affordable care," said the study's principal investigator Dr. Angel Foster. To read the findings and the recommendations for future action, please download the report and executive summary.

The research was undertaken as part of the Reproductive Empowerment and Decision Making for Young Adults (REaDY) Initiative, a statewide project to reduce unplanned pregnancy among young adults in the wake of Massachusetts health care reform. REaDY is led by an Executive Committee of multiple organizations and agencies within the Commonwealth. Ibis is leading the formative research component, and the statewide, multi-agency taskforce is chaired by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Family Planning Program and coordinated by the Pro-Choice Massachusetts Foundation. Other Executive Committee members include the Massachusetts Family Planning Association, youth development specialist TiElla Grimes, and the Boston Public Health Commission.

Learn more about the REaDY Initiative and Ibis's other work related to Massachusetts health care reform.