Calculator: How Expensive Is Birth Control?

Rick Santorum claims it’s “just a few dollars.” Time for a reality check.

Day after day, week after week, month after month—those contraceptive costs can really add up.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/42954113@N00/5230071985/">Monik Markus</a>/Flickr

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


To hear some conservative politicians tell it, you’d think birth control pills fall from the sky and IUDs grow on trees. During the recent controversy over President Barack Obama’s rule requiring insurance companies to offer birth control free of charge, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum claimed birth control “costs just a few dollars.” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) went even further, arguing that “not one woman” has ever been denied access to contraception because she could not afford it.

As the huge majority of American women who’ve used it know, birth control costs a lot more than a couple bucks. The typical American woman spends about 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy, so even relatively small monthly copays add up. Enter in your age and your preferred birth control method below, and our handy contraceptive calculator will tell you just how much you’d be dishing out for pills, patches, and rings over the rest of your fertile years without Obama’s free birth control plan:

According to the Center for American Progress, even women with private health insurance often shoulder a significant portion of the cost for their prescription birth control needs. That's one of the reasons women of reproductive age spend 68 percent more on out-of-pocket health care expenses than their male counterparts do. And contrary to Rep. Price's claim, surveys show that women do indeed forgo contraception—or use it inconsistently—when they're in a financial crunch. According to a 2009 study from the Guttmacher Institute (PDF), 23 percent of middle- and low-income women said they had a harder time paying for birth control in the current economy and 24 percent put off a visit to the gynecologist in order to save money. A recent Hart Research Associates survey found that one in three women voters—including 55 percent of young women—have struggled to afford birth control. In fact, the high cost of birth control is exactly why the Institute of Medicine recommended that it be covered without a copay.

Birth control isn't just about pregnancy prevention—many women use it for other medical reasons too. A recent study found that only 42 percent of women using the pill in the United States are using it solely to prevent pregnancy.

Please note that birth control costs can vary considerably depending on your insurance coverage, health care provider, and location. Our calculator is based on data from the Center for American Progress, which provided a range of prices for each contraceptive method. CAP's price estimates were based on info from Planned Parenthood and confirmed by surveys of other health care providers and pharmacies, academic studies, and consumer and advocate reports.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate