An independent analysis conducted by University of California medical researchers has found that allowing women to receive a 12-month supply of self-administered contraceptives would result in 15,000 fewer unintended pregnancies.
They also found that it could save employers, consumers and government agencies $42.8 million a year each year.
The analysis of SB 999 by Senator Fran Pavley was conducted by the California Health Benefits Analysis Program, a UC program that uses staff researchers and a task force of faculty at UC’s esteemed medical centers.
It was released this week on the eve of the bill’s first committee hearing, before the Senate Business and Professions Committee on Monday, April 4.
SB 999 would require all public and private health insurance plans to cover a 12-month supply of self-administered contraceptives, such as birth control pills, the patch and the ring.
Currently, women must routinely refill prescriptions every 30 or 90 days – a process that research shows can lead to inconsistent use and a 30 percent increase in unintended pregnancies.
The Health Benefits Analysis Program is required to study all legislation that proposes a mandate on health insurance plans – a requirement that applied to SB 999 even though it does not mandate a new benefit, but rather adjusts an existing contraceptive benefit that must be covered by all health plans.
SB 399 preserves existing state law that exempts certain religious employers from providing this coverage in their group health plans for workers.
“This study shows that dispensing a 12-month supply of contraceptives not only provides women with more consistent access to birth control and reduces unintended pregnancies, but it also saves money for everyone involved,” said Pavley. “This is smart medicine and smart policy.”
The study found that by reducing unintended pregnancies and cutting down on medical office visits, the bill would save private employers that provide group insurance coverage to workers $12.5 million a year.
Government agencies that provide insurance through CalPERS $2.1 million and people who purchase policies on the private insurance market $5.2 million.
In addition, the 744,000 California women who use these hormonal contraceptives would collectively save $22.9 million a year in reduced out-of-pocket costs.
The study says these savings would be achieved even as health outcomes are improved.
The study estimates that there would be 15,000 fewer unintended pregnancies and 7,000 fewer abortions each year among women who shift to a 12-month prescription for self-administered contraceptives.