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Young Women and Reproductive Health Care

Young Women and Reproductive Health Care

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Jessica Arons, Lucy Panza, and Lindsay Rosenthal explain why the Affordable Care Act helps young women access the health care they need in an affordable way.
Jessica Arons, Lucy Panza, and Lindsay Rosenthal explain why the Affordable Care Act helps young women access the health care they need in an affordable way.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Jul 30, 2012
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1Center or American Progress | Young Women and Reproductive Health Care
Young Women and ReproductiveHealth Care
Reproductive Care Is the Primary Health Care Needfor Young Women
Jessica Arons, Lucy Panza, and Lindsay Rosenthal July 30, 2012
Policymakers oen rea reproducive healh care dierenly rom oher orms o healhcare, bu ask any young woman, and she will ell you ha gynecological care is a unda-menal par o her healh care. Tis year’s debae in Washingon around conracepionhas a imes missed he mos imporan issue: When we alk abou young womenshealh care, mos o he ime we are alking abou heir reproducive healh care. Ye some conservaive, religiously aliaed universiies and nonprof organizaionsare rying o op ou o an Obama adminisraion regulaion ha requires healh planso cover conracepion wih no cos-sharing such as co-pays and deducibles. Because women now make up he majoriy o sudens enrolled in higher educaion,
and because women comprise he majoriy o sa a nonprof insiuions,
i is imporano look a he healh needs o hese women.Tis ac shee presens some imporan inormaion abou he healh care services hahese women need and use.
Reproductive and sexual health is a primary health care needfor young women
For many young women, heir annual visi o heir obserician/gynecologis may beheir only consisen conac wih a docor, and i is oen heir primary ineracion wihhe healh care sysem.
Young women use gynecological visis or a range o services,rom checking heir blood pressure o obaining a breas exam, rom receiving radiionalgynecological services such as screening or sexually ransmited inecions or birh con-rol prescripions o being screened or depression and menal healh disorders.
2Center or American Progress | Young Women and Reproductive Health Care
Reproducive healh care is undamenal o and inseparable rom women’s overallhealh and well-being. As such, i’s no surprising ha women ages 18 o 34 are moresaisfed wih heir care when heir regular provider is a reproducive healh specialis,primarily OB-GYN physicians.
2,248,000 women in heir 20s needed prenaal care in 2009. By comparison, only 414,831 women under he age o 20 and 1,543,066 women older han 30 neededprenaal care ha year.
Te Ceners or Disease Conrol and Prevenion repors ha even hough youngpeople ages 15 o 24 represen only 25 percen o he sexually experienced populaion,hey acquire nearly hal o all new sexually ransmited inecions.
Compared wiholder aduls, sexually acive adolescens ages 15 o 19 and young aduls ages 20 o 24are a higher risk o acquiring SIs due o a combinaion o behavioral, biological, andculural reasons.
In 2010 women ages 20 o 24 had he highes rae o chlamydia (3,407.9 cases per100,000 emales) compared wih any oher age or sex group. Chlamydia raes or women in his age group increased 6.9 percen rom 2009 o 2010.
In 2010, as inprevious years, women ages 20 o 24 had he second highes rae o gonorrhea, while women ages 15 o 19 had he highes rae (560.7 cases per 100,000 emales) com-pared wih any oher age or sex group. From 2009 o 2010, gonorrhea raes or womenin his age group increased 3.8 percen.
Contraception is the fundamental reproductive health care need foryoung women
Despie he common misconcepion ha eens are he mos likely age group oexperience an uninended pregnancy, women are mos a risk or an uninendedpregnancy during heir 20s. Among unmarried women who have ever experiencedan unplanned pregnancy, 54 percen are beween he ages o 20 and 29, while 31percen are under he age o 20. Only 15 percen o uninended pregnancies areamong women age 30 and older.
Naionwide 1.5 million women ages 15 o 44 use oral conracepives exclusively or non-conracepive purposes. Bu more han hal o pill users (58 percen) rely on he mehoda leas in par or purposes oher han pregnancy prevenion. Tiry-one percen use ior cramps or mensrual pain, 28 percen or mensrual regulaion, 14 percen or acne, 4percen or endomeriosis, and 11 percen or oher unspecifed reasons.
eenagers are more likely o use birh conrol pills or nonconracepive reasons hanolder women. Eighy-wo percen o young women ages 15 o 19 who use oral con-
3Center or American Progress | Young Women and Reproductive Health Care
racepives say hey do so or nonconracepive reasons. Among pill users ages 20 andolder, he overwhelming majoriy—90 percen—repor using he mehod or birhconrol, and 54 percen repor using he pill or is nonconracepive benefs, as well.
Naionwide here are 18,404,500 women beween he ages o 18 and 29 in need o conracepive services and supplies.
For hese women, conracepion use or preg-nancy prevenion and amily planning is a undamenal par o heir prevenive careand should be considered a basic par o heir primary healh care.
Young women are least likely to be able to afford contraception
O he approximaely 19 million uninsured adul women in America, abou 5.3 mil-lion—28 percen—are ages 19 o 25.
Women in heir 20s have been among he leaslikely o have healh insurance eiher because hey are no longer in school; no longereligible o say on heir paren’s insurance policy; working par-ime, emporary, orlow-wage jobs ha do no oer healh benefs; or some combinaion o he above.
Te coss associaed wih consisen conracepion use can be dauning. I uninsured,a woman can ace more han $1,200 in annual coss or oral conracepives and relaeddocors’ appoinmens. Even an insured woman can spend more han $200 a year onher annual supply o oral conracepives and relaed docor’s appoinmens.
Regardless o wheher a woman has insurance, her conracepive coss are a signifcanporion o her ou-o-pocke healh care spending. One sudy shows ha ou-o-pocke spending on oral conracepives accouned or 30 percen o privaely insured womens healh care expenses and 68 percen o uninsured womens ou-o-pockehealh care expenses. Te sudy also fnds ha ou-o-pocke spending on conracep-ion is highes or young women beween he ages o 21 and 30.
Given ha he
average annual income or working aduls ages 18 o 34 is $27,458,
 hese coss presen real obsacles o young women’s access o care. One sudy showedha 55 percen o women ages 18 o 34 repored ha hey sruggled o pay or birhconrol, leading hem o use heir mehod inconsisenly or no a all.
Researchshows ha even minimal co-pays or deducibles or prevenive services cause womeno delay reproducive care.
Obamacare protects young women’s reproductive and sexual healthand well-being
Te Aordable Care Ac addresses many barriers ha young women ace in accessingaordable reproducive healh care. Mos imporanly, he law guaranees ha conracep-

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