June 2011

Women's out of pocket expenditures and dispensing patterns for oral contraceptive pills between 1996 and 2006

Liang S, Grossman D, Phillips K. Women's out of pocket expenditures and dispensing patterns for oral contraceptive pills between 1996 and 2006. Contraception. 2011 Jun;83(6):528-36.

Background: Little is known about the out-of-pocket expenditures and dispensing patterns for oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), factors associated with these outcomes and whether they change over time.

Study Design: Observational cohort using 1996-2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys.

Results: Women spent $16 out-of-pocket per pack, on average (median=$10.41). Of the OCP users, 38% paid $15 or more per pack and 44% obtained one pack per purchase. Over time, fewer women paid $15 or more (52% in 1996-1998 vs. 34% in 1999-2006, p<.001) and fewer obtained one pack per purchase (76% in 1996-1998 vs. 35% in 1999-2006, p<.001). Age and insurance were associated with out-of-pocket expenditures and dispensing patterns.

Conclusion: Women paid a substantial amount out-of-pocket for OCPs and dispensing limits remained, although these improved over time. Better insurance coverage of contraception and policies targeting younger women and the uninsured in particular would help overcome barriers to OCP access.