Thursday, November 8, 2012
Mencken (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
As of 1998, almost all private insurers covered prescription drugs, yet only about a third offered coverage for oral contraception. By 1999, 68% of employer sponsored plans covered oral contraception, and this number rose to 78% in 2002. Little is known about coverage for small-group or individual plans. This discrepancy in coverage is one reason why women of childbearing age pay 68% more out-of–pocket in healthcare costs than men of the same age; some have termed this a ‘gender tax’. The Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage (EPICC) Act was first unsuccessfully introduced in the Senate in 1997 as a reaction to disparities in insurance coverage of contraceptives and has been re-introduced multiple times. EPICC legislation mandated that all insurance plans covering prescription drugs also cover FDA-approved contraceptives. Although EPICC has died in subcommittee each time it has been introduced, states have been more successful in passing laws requiring insurance coverage parity for contraceptives. Since 1998, 26 states have passed contraceptive parity legislation. The purpose of these policies is to increase access to effective contraception for insured women by lowering its cost; however the effect of parity policy on contraceptive use is unknown. This paper explores the impact of parity laws on the contraceptive use of youth using data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Understanding if and how contraceptive parity policy affects youth contraceptive use is particularly important since the negative consequences of teenage pregnancy are significant. The YRBS is a national school-based survey of high school students that monitors risky behaviors among youth. The survey asks sexually active respondents about their condom, birth control pill, or Depo-Provera patch use during their last sexual encounter. The effect of parity laws on contraceptive choice will be assessed by modeling the choice of no contraception, birth control pill, Depo-Provera, or condom as a function of individual characteristics and the presence of parity laws using a fixed effect multinomial probit estimator. The results from this analysis will provide important evidence regarding the effect of contraceptive parity policy on youth contraceptive practices.