People covered by Medicaid insurance may not have easy access to some of the most effective, longer-acting birth control methods, new research claims.
Investigators found that while about 48% of physicians who treat Medicaid patients provided prescription contraception like the birth control pill, only 10% offered longer-acting methods like IUDs and implants. Birth control is considered an essential health service.
“This study is first of its kind and uses a national dataset of all Medicaid claims filed in the U.S,” said lead author Mandar Bodas, a research scientist at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.
“In our analysis, we found that a physician's characteristics -- including their clinical specialty, age, gender and the Medicaid expansion status of their state -- were associated with both providing any contraceptive care and with the number of beneficiaries provided contraceptive care,” Bodas said in a university news release.
One possible solution is requiring policy and program strategies tailored to different physician specialties, Bodas said. This might look like primary care doctors receiving more training to provide the full scope of contraceptive care to their patients.
“Previous research tells us that Medicaid beneficiaries face a number of barriers to accessing primary care, and our study finds that one of those barriers is lack of access to the full range of contraceptive methods,” said lead investigator Julia Strasser, director of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“If a patient goes to a physician who is the only provider in the area that accepts Medicaid, and that physician only provides the birth control pill but not other methods, then it's hard to say that the patient has reasonable access to all forms of contraception,” Strasser noted in the release.
The study authors said the research helps shed light on important factors that predict access to these critical health services.
The findings were published March 17 in the journal JAMA Health Forum.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on contraception.
SOURCE: George Washington University, news release, March 17, 2023