So the right wing pundits keep saying that oral contraception pills are so cheap – that you can just go down to Walmart and get them for $9 a month. Uhm no – that is IF you have insurance coverage and that is your generic co-pay.
The latest data available for Average Wholesale Prices (AWP) is from 2010. From http://www.regencerx.com/docs/physicianRx/womens-health-natazia-1010.pdf:
The prices for AWP are $20-$180 – that is the WHOLESALE cost. So double that number for what it costs women without insurance.
And last I have seen prices for drugs have gone UP not down so 2012 costs are likely higher. Hormonal contraception has a host of other uses than contraception – treatment of dysmenorrhea (painful menses), menorrhagia (heavy menses), metrorrhagia (frequent menses), polycystic ovarian syndrome, luteal cysts, acne, and migraine prevention. Additionally just being able to skip menses and/or schedule it is reason enough! Hormonal contraception is protective against ovarian cancer.
According to the Guttmacher Institute 58% of oral contraception prescriptions are written at least in part for a reason other than contraception. I would argue that number is higher when you consider convenience and cancer prevention.
Even in the cases where you can get generic oral contraception for $10/month, that presupposes that the woman tolerates that particular hormone combination (which is often a complicated process to find the right match) and still requires at least one office visit – without insurance that would likely be at least $150 before any tests are done.
I don’t see the same people asking men to pay for their Viagra out of pocket: AWP $8.75 per pill (http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/19/2/147.full.pdf) and erectile dysfunction is not a medical condition that will effect your day to day life. It does not cause excruciating pain, anemia, infertility, cancer nor any of the things that oral contraceptives are used to treat.
Insurance companies understand that even when used solely as contraception, oral contraceptives are cost effective. For every $1 spent on contraception, $4 is saved. Abortion, pregnancy and raising a child cost a lot more. Insurance companies do not have an issue with the contraceptive mandate. It is solely religious fundamentalists. Separation of church and state means this is a personal choice. It means if you do not believe in birth control nor abortion you do not need to use them. It does not mean you have a right to inflict that on others – that is religious persecution.