May 1, 2015 — A change to physician reimbursements in Texas has made intrauterine devices more accessible to low-income women and teenagers, KERA News reports (Douglas, KERA News, 4/29).
IUDs use copper or hormones to prevent pregnancy. Unlike pills, condoms or other contraceptives that require frequent attention, IUDs can remain in place for several years. They are also more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, with few risks.
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that an IUD be considered as a first choice for adolescents seeking contraception. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also has recommended the method as an appropriate option for teenagers (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).
However, according to KERA News, financial constraints can limit access to IUDs, particularly for underinsured women.
Texas Policy Details
A new state policy, which took effect in August 2014, enables physicians to prescribe IUDs without losing money. According to KERA News, Texas' former policy for reimbursing physicians for such treatment resulted in physicians losing hundreds of dollars per IUD implant.
According to Janet Realini, chair of the Texas Women's Healthcare Coalition, the state implemented a "workaround" that lets physicians prescribe an IUD and then have the pharmacy ship the device to the physician's office. The patient then returns to have the device inserted.
Policy Could Help Stem Teen Pregnancy Rate
Increased access to IUDs could help lower Texas' teenage pregnancy rate, which is fifth-highest in the nation, KERA News reports. For example, the teen birthrate in Colorado has dropped by 40% since the state implemented a program that increased the availability of IUDs to low-income women.
However, according to KERA News, IUDs remain less popular than other methods for teenagers in Texas, partly because some teenagers have misconceptions about the device. Overall, about 9% of teenagers using contraception in Texas use an IUD, according to CDC (KERA News, 4/29).