How the Supreme Court Decision Can Affect Your Access to Birth Control

  • A new Supreme Court ruling could cause thousands of people to no longer have access to covered birth control.
  • Experts say now is the time to do your research, understand your options, and pick a contraceptive method that’ll work for you.
  • You can ask a doctor for a year’s supply of contraception; other options may also be available for lower cost.

The Supreme Court decided this month that employers with any religious or moral objections to contraception don’t need to offer it to their workers.

The ruling could cause thousands of people to no longer have access to birth control under their insurance plan. Those affected by this change would also no longer be able to sue their employer for job discrimination.

In the wake of the decision, people who use contraception are left wondering how they’ll be able to access affordable birth control if they work for a company that considers itself to be religious.

But there’s some time to come up with a plan before any changes take place.

“The ruling will not go into effect immediately, so I would hope that anyone currently using birth control doesn’t panic,” said Dr. Anjana Sharma, an assistant professor of family community medicine at University of California, San Francisco and practicing physician at the San Francisco General Hospital’s Family Health Center.

Now’s the time to do your research, understand your options, and pick a contraceptive method that’ll work for you.

Sharma’s first piece of advice is to look into your insurance plan and see whether your company is labeled as a “religious employer.”

“It is reasonable to talk to your human resources department or insurance to get more information,” Sharma advised.

If you’re concerned about how the changes will affect you, Sharma also recommends calling the CoverHer hotline at 866-745-5487, which is run by the National Women’s Law Center.

Remember, this change isn’t going to happen overnight, so you have some time to prepare.

“My best advice is that if you’re interested in starting contraception or changing contraception, go to your healthcare provider now,” said Dr. Aileen Gariepy, an OB-GYN with Yale Medicine and associate professor of OB-GYN and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

You can read up on the different types of contraception available at Bedsider.org. “It is evidence-based, easy to use, and compares all methods of contraception, including a comparison of costs,” Gariepy said.

Sharma says you can ask your doctor to prescribe up to a year of contraception at a time to ensure that you’ll have it for the next year.

“Some states require that insurance companies cover a year’s supply in one pharmacy visit,” Sharma said.

She recommends physicians prescribe a year’s worth of supply at least, regardless of the Supreme Court ruling.

Planned Parenthood and federally qualified health centers provide lower-cost birth control options, Gariepy says.

According to Sharma, some generic medications, like for birth control pills, may also be cheaper than other options if you have to pay out of pocket.

You can also download coupons from GoodRx.com to help offset any costs.

You may also want to look into a company that sells affordable birth control online, like:

These companies tend to be cheaper and conduct telehealth consultations rather than requiring an in-office visit.

In general, switching birth control methods is safe and relatively easy, according to Gariepy.

However, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor and choose a new option carefully.

“From a public health perspective, the downside is that when women are forced to choose a contraceptive based on their pocketbook, it may necessitate choosing less effective contraception,” Gariepy said.

Nonprescription contraception (think condoms or spermicide) is the cheapest option, but it’s also less effective.

The pill can run from $10 to $50 month, but that’s also 20 times less effective than an intrauterine device (IUD) or implant, according to Gariepy.

An IUD or implant can be worth the investment over time since they can last years, but they usually require an upfront payment of about $500 to $900.

Some people may think the safest bet is to schedule an IUD, some of which can work for up to 10 years.

But Sharma says you should be patient and not feel forced to quickly pick a form of birth control due to the new ruling.

While a great option for some people, IUDs may be uncomfortable or painful to others.

“You deserve to have a contraception method that is best for you, your values, your health conditions, and your preferences,” Sharma said.

In general, birth control pills and IUDs are recommended for people with heavier periods. Acne is commonly treated with the pill, too, as are perimenopausal symptoms, according to Sharma.

“We do have a range of options for these symptoms, which would have to be a conversation with your doctor,” Sharma said.

For example, NSAID medications, like ibuprofen, and tranexamic acid can help with heavy periods. Antibiotics and topical creams can help treat acne.

People experiencing perimenopausal symptoms have various hormonal and nonhormonal medication options that your doctor can prescribe.

If you do have to pay out of pocket, talk to your doctor and ask them what affordable options they recommend.

The Supreme Court decided this month that employers with any religious or moral objections to contraception don’t need to offer it to their workers.

The ruling could cause many people to lose access to free birth control.

The change won’t go into effect immediately, so instead of scrambling to switch your birth control, research your options and ask your doctor for some recommendations.

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