Policy Studies Competition Policy

Pharmacy Access to Contraception in Massachusetts

Authors

Courtney Joslin
Resident Fellow and Senior Manager, Competition Policy
Nicolas John
Former Legislative Advisor

Key Points

Many women have limited access to contraception.

Nearly half of pregnancies in Massachusetts are unplanned.

Massachusetts taxpayers spent over $350 million to cover the medical costs associated with unplanned pregnancy in 2010.

Allowing pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control reduces unintended pregnancy, saves taxpayer money and increases access to care.

Massachusetts should pass S.1309 to allow this model.


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Background

In Massachusetts, nearly one-third of women of reproductive age use short-acting hormonal contraception such as transdermal patches, birth control injections or birth control pills. The latter are the most popular form of female contraception in Massachusetts, where unintended pregnancy rates are high. In 2011, which is the latest year national data is available, 47 percent of pregnancies in the state were unplanned.

Moreover, as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reported, unintended pregnancies in Massachusetts result in costly public health expenditures. In 2010, publicly funded medical expenses associated with 56 percent of unplanned pregnancies in Massachusetts were nearly $358 million; $138.3 million of which was paid for by Bay State taxpayers.

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