267481 At what cost? How U.S. women pay for abortion services

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 8:45 AM - 9:00 AM

Rachel Jones, PhD , Research Division, Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY
Tracy A. Weitz, PhD, MPA , Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA
Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH , Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA, US Virgin Islands
Most U.S. women pay out of pocket for abortion care, at an average cost of $470. There is little information about how these women—most of whom are low-income—obtain the money. We examined data from a sample of 639 abortion patients at six clinics. Only 23% of patients used it to pay for the procedure, and those with Medicaid were more likely than those with private insurance to do so (45% vs. 24%). Most commonly, women with coverage were not using their insurance because abortion was not covered by their plan (46%) or they did not know if it was (29%); 12% indicated they didn't want to use their insurance (e.g., due to stigma). Forty-one percent of patients indicated it was somewhat or very difficult to pay for the procedure, and half had to rely on financial assistance. Some 31% reported that the man involved in the pregnancy helped pay, and patients were equally likely to indicate they received a discount, relied on an abortion fund or obtained assistance from a family member (10% each). The costs of accessing abortion services extended beyond paying for the procedure and included transportation (69%), lost wages (28%), childcare (12%) and travel (6%). To cover these expenses, a substantial minority, 33%, had to delay or forgo paying bills (30%), food (16%), rent (14%), (other) medical expenses (8%) or childcare (6%). Health care and logistical costs are a burden for women seeking abortion care, and insurance and other assistance are crucial to maintaining access.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To describe how U.S. women pay for abortion services.

Keywords: Abortion, Health Insurance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the analysis that will be summarized in the presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.