Research by the Guttmacher Institute released today finds that expanding Medicaid coverage of contraceptives would reduce dramatically the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, preventing close to 500,000 unwanted pregnancies and 200,000 abortions annually. The Guttmacher Policy Review also finds that by preventing unwanted pregnancy, federal and state governments could save $1.5 billion by not having to pay for pre- and post-natal pregnancy care for Medicaid recipients.
The report by Rachel Benson Gold, “Rekindling Efforts to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy,”cites research by the Guttmacher Institute showing that there is a growing disparity between upper- and middle-class women and poor women’s ability to prevent unwanted pregnancy. According to this research, poor women are “nearly four times as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, five times as likely to have an unintended birth and more than three times as likely to have an abortion” as higher-income women, according to Guttmacher. Gold’s report recommends that Medicaid cover the same women for contraceptive services that it covers for pregnancy-related expenses. While covering contraceptive services for women on Medicaid would have higher upfront costs, she writes, state and federal pregnancy-related expenditures would drop as the number of unwanted pregnancies also dropped.
“Expanding Medicaid eligibility would be tremendously effective in restarting the nation’s stalled efforts to reduce unplanned pregnancy and, thereby, the need for abortion,” said Gold, the Guttmacher Institute’s Director of Policy Analysis.