Commenting on the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that contraception should be considered a preventative service and co-pays for contraception should be eliminated, Bill O'Reilly claimed: "Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex. They're not going to use birth control anyway."
In a telephone conversation with Media Matters, Judy Waxman, Vice President of Health and Reproductive Services at National Women's Law Center (NWLC) responded to O'Reilly's statement that women are "blasted out of their minds" while having sex and won't use birth control by stating:
Almost all the women that are heterosexual use contraceptives at some time. There is no study that O'Reilly refers to when he says that. He totally made that up. It is his opinion and it is offensive.
Waxman also noted other problems with O'Reilly's statement:
The Institute of Medicine recommended that the preventative services package which will be required to be covered in all new private health plans in the U.S. should include the full range of FDA contraceptive methods. Payment for these recommended services is not made by the government, but rather it is paid for by the plans. There are three things that are wrong with the O'Reilly statement. First, the government is not paying. Second, these recommendations apply to new health plans in the U.S. only. And third, this recommendation will not cost the government billions of dollars. The IOM report says that the use of contraceptive is cost-effective and cites a 2007 study which estimates that cost savings due to contraceptive use is estimated to be $19.3 billion.
The NWLC has also stated that "contraception is critical" and "should be covered as part of a woman's preventative health benefits." In fact, the organization deemed that "guaranteeing contraceptive coverage as part of preventative care would be a major advance for women."
Watch O'Reilly's comments here:
As Waxman mentioned, the Institute of Medicine report that O'Reilly was discussing states:
Although it is beyond the scope of the committee's consideration, it should be noted that contraception is highly cost-effective. The direct medical cost of unintended pregnancy in the United States was estimated to be nearly $5 billion in 2002, with the cost savings due to contraceptive use estimated to be $19.3 billion (Trussell, 2007). The cost-effectiveness of family planning is also documented in an evaluation of FamilyPact, California's 1115 Medicaid Family Planning Waiver Program. The unintended pregnancies averted in this program in 2002 would have cost the state $1.1 billion within two years, and $2.2 billion within five years, for public sector health and social services that otherwise would have been needed (Amaral et al,. 2007).
Despite increases in private health insurance coverage of contraception since the 1990s, many women do not have insurance coverage or are in health plans in which copayments for visits and for prescriptions have increased in recent years. In fact, a review of the research on the impact of cost sharing on the use of health care services found that cost-sharing requirements, such as deductibles and copayments, can pose barriers to care and result in reduced use of preventive and primary care services, particularly for low-income populations (Hudman and O'Malley, 2003). Even small increments in cost sharing have been shown to reduce the use of preventive services, such as mammograms (Trivedi et al., 2008). The elimination of cost sharing for contraception therefore could greatly increase its use, including use of the more effective and longer-acting methods, especially among poor and low-income women most at risk for unintended pregnancy. A recent study conducted by Kaiser Permanente found that when out-of pocket costs for contraceptives were eliminated or reduced, women were more likely to rely on more effective long-acting contraceptive methods (Postlethwaite et al., 2007). [emphasis added, pages 92-94]