A new KFF survey finds that more than three-quarters (77%) of females ages 18-49 favor making birth control pills available without a doctor’s prescription if research shows they are safe and effective. Among those who favor making birth control pills available over the counter and who currently use prescription oral contraception, 60% say they would be likely to use over-the-counter birth control pills. Most say the main reason is convenience (59%).
Many females who would be unlikely to use over-the-counter birth control pills (46%) or are unsure (14%) say the main reason is they don’t currently use birth control pills nor plan to use them in the future (53%). Among those who use oral contraception, the main reason is they would prefer to talk to a provider before starting or refilling their birth control. Other reasons include concerns about safety, cost, and health insurance coverage.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has required most insurance plans to cover prescription contraceptives at no cost to patients for over a decade, 41% of females ages 18-49 are unaware of this requirement. One-quarter of these females with private insurance say they paid at least part of the cost of their contraceptive care out-of-pocket. A growing number of reports note that some insurance plans are failing to comply with the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement, which has been scaled back through regulations and court decisions.
These survey findings come as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides whether to approve a progestin-only oral contraceptive pill (Opill) for over-the-counter status, making it as accessible as pain relievers and allergy medications.
Periodically conducted since 2001, the 2022 KFF Women’s Health Survey includes a nationally representative sample of 5,201 people who say they were assigned female at birth (including those who identify as women or other genders). Our analyses present the state of contraceptive access and preferences, including differences in contraceptive use and experiences by income, race and ethnicity, and insurance status.
Additional findings include:
Learn more about the 2022 Women’s Health Survey findings in the report “Contraception in the United States: A Closer Look at Experiences, Preferences, and Coverage” and the brief “Interest in Using Over-the-Counter Oral Contraceptive Pills.”