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Family Planning Help for AZ’s Uninsured Women

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March 9, 2011

PHOENIX - Uninsured Arizona women are getting a helping hand with the often high cost of birth control. Planned Parenthood is offering a device that can last 12 years at about one-half its normal cost.

Carol Bafaloukos, associate medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, says the intrauterine contraceptive is safe even for women who experience complications with hormonal birth control.

"A lot of women need long-term contraception but, for one reason or another – maybe they have migraine headaches, maybe they have high blood pressure or have had breast cancer – they can't use a hormonal method of birth control."

The program takes on added significance as the state gets ready to end health insurance for 175,000 women on Arizona's Medicaid program, also known as AHCCCS. Bafaloukos says the $500 reduced rate for the device is the result of a large private donation. She calls it an "exceptionally good deal" compared to other birth-control methods.

"Birth control pills run anywhere from $25 to $30 a month. Some of the other methods – the Evra patch, the NuvaRing – those are a little more expensive, in the $60 to $70 range. Depo-Provera is $95 for three months."

She is concerned that cuts in government-funded health programs will mean that women without insurance won't be getting the care they need.

"We're already running into some issues with some of the AHCCCS cuts not covering well-woman exams. It makes it a little more difficult to get these women in for the necessary information that we need to get them on birth control."

Bafaloukos says about 60 percent of the women served at Planned Parenthood clinics have no health insurance.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ