Tell Us Your Birth Control Story

Tell Us Your Birth Control Story

Are you one of the millions of women who has been able to get affordable birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare)?   If so, we want to know your story!

For example:

  • Did your cost for birth control go down after the ACA was implemented?
  • Were you able to get a method that was previously too expensive?
  • How did your experience getting birth control change after ACA?
  • Did you switch your method to one you liked better because it was now more affordable?
  • How did you get birth control before ACA coverage, or were you not able to?
  • How has the ACA and its birth control coverage benefitted you?

Despite the improvements made possible by the ACA, we know that millions of women still lack health insurance and don’t have access to a great health clinic or doctor nearby. This can make getting the birth control method that works best more difficult (or even impossible)—especially if that method is the IUD or implant.

If you’re still struggling with contraceptive care, we want to know that as well.

Such as:

  • Why can’t you obtain health care coverage?
  • If you go to a clinic, how long does it take you to get what you need?
  • How do you get there?  Is it convenient?
  • How long do you have to wait for an appointment? 
  • Do you feel you are getting all the information necessary to make an informed decision?
  • Are you able to get your questions answered in a way that works for you?
  • Are you able to get any method you choose, including the IUD or implant?

We want to hear from you. 

Please tell us in your own words about your experiences (the good and the bad).  We want to know what works, what doesn’t, what you wish was different, and what you think might happen if the ACA is repealed.

Submit your stories here.

 

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ARIZONA

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ALABAMA

Auburn, AL: Thanks to the ACA, I was able to find a birth control method that worked for me. When a couple versions of the pill didn't work, I wanted to try the Mirena IUD. I had heard horror stories of it being $1000 or more, something I definitely could not afford. But thankfully my health insurance covered it completely. My Mirena needs to be replaced in 2018, at which time I'll want to get a new one. If the ACA is repealed, I guess I'll have to start saving now!—Christina C., 29

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ALASKA

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ARKANSAS

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CALIFORNIA

San Diego, CA: I have been on birth control for about 10 years. When I was younger, my parents did not have insurance so I relied on local community health centers, planned parenthood, and even the University of California, San Diego's student health center for birth control. Getting pregnant at a young age and even now is not in my plans, and being on birth control was and continues to be my way of taking control of my health, my body and my future. I am eternally grateful for these health centers as well as the Family PACT program that was able to supply otherwise costly birth control for free because of my income. 
When I first got enrolled into employee-sponsored insurance back in 2013, I no longer had to worry about overpassing the income bracket to get affordable birth control, my insurance covered gynecological visits and the birth control of my choice. 
If ACA is repealed, not only will millions of once uninsured/now insured and healthy Americans be left without options to treat chronic conditions or even afford to get sick, millions of young men and women will be faced with "pre-existing conditions" will be left without many options for their futures. In years past, an unplanned pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition, let's not go back to those times. I understand our current house did not agree with the implementation of ACA in the first place, but I beg that they leave is with something better, don't take it away completely.—Romina B.A., 29

Ventura Country, CA: When I was in my early 20's and still on my parent's insurance, I was paying $25/month for the contraceptive pill. I take it for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and it is the only thing that regulates my hormones and keeps adult acne at bay. I moved to the UK from 2008-2015, where my prescription ended up being free under the National Health Service. Once I returned to the USA, I was able to get free contraceptive pills for a few months from Planned Parenthood while I searched for work and waited for my insurance to kick in at my new job. Now, through my work insurance plan, my contraceptive pills are $10 for a three month supply! A massive change from the pre-ACA insurance plans! The ACA has made a massive difference in my ability to afford contraception! —Kim S., 32

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CONNECTICUT

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COLORADO

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DELAWARE

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Washington, DC: I first started taking the pill when I was probably around 16 or 17. I wasn't sexually active, but I have endometriosis and my cycle is seriously unbearable. The pill helped some, but the pain still remained. Throughout my many moves, college, multiple doctors, and other health issues, I've had to switch pills and found that some were not as effective, some didn't work at all, and some doctors wouldn't even prescribe me the pill. I was outraged to think that a doctor wouldn't allow me access to a medicine that my body needed. In 2015, I became unemployed and was on Medicaid. I am *so grateful* that DC expanded their Medicaid coverage and that I was able to be covered so that I could be protected, be safe, and keep receiving my medications (which I needed for birth control, as well as other health conditions). However in 2016, once again I ran into an issue with a doctor who wouldn't prescribe me the pill; I mean, this is 2016 right?! I did my research, and thanks to a local clinic I was able to receive an IUD; bonus, I didn't have to pay anything! I will tell you that although having the IUD inserted isn't exactly the most fun I've had (let's just say it's not a day at the amusement park lol), I love not having my cycle, dealing with cramps, and bonus, my chronic migraines have reduced. I truly feel thankful to Obama and the ACA for allowing women's health to be a priority. Without that coverage, I would still be suffering from doctor to doctor, uncertain about my protection, dealing with horrendous cycles and horrible migraines.—Shanelle O., 29

Washington, DC: I started birth control at 13 to help regulate painful, long, and irregular periods. I went through many brands of pills, the shots, the ring and struggled to find a birth control type that worked for me. At 22 I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis and my doctor recommended I get a copper IUD after trying virtually every other method of birth control. Thanks to the ACA, my IUD it was inserted at no cost to me. As a poor graduate student I wouldn't have been able to afford my IUD without the ACA keeping me under my parent's insurance and ensuring that insurance companies cover birth control. My symptoms affected my ability to work and go to school, so being able to manage my reproductive health means everything for my future.—Bree R, 26

Washington, DC: I was diagnosed with PCOS about 4 years ago and prescribed birth control to control my hormone levels so that I can have a higher chance of fertility later in life if I ever wanted to have a child. As a law student, I am restricted from working full time and am under a lot of loans. The ACA has allowed me to take birth control without a charge, which has been a big relief to me. Many may not know, but birth control is not only used as a contraceptive. It can be used medically for conditions such as mine.—Sophia C.,25

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FLORIDA

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GEORGIA

Atlanta, GA: When I was 16, I was started on birth control since I was taking Accutane, which is contraindicated for pregnancy. I had to be on BC in order to take the medication. It also helped with my near-debilitating cramps and extreme bleeding. Over the next decade, due to insurance and switching gynocologists, my birth control was switched well over ten times. I’d find one that worked and then insurance would no longer cover it. At the worst, I was paying a $75 copay each month in order to get the prescription that worked the best for me. That’s a lot of money as a college student. Since the ACA, my BC has remained consistent, my copay is $0 and I no longer have to hassle with prior authorizations and co-pay assistance cards. 
I’m still hopeful that one day we can do a year supply for BC. It is challenging to continue to argue with the pharmacy who argues with the insurance companies about when I can pick up my medication. Not taking the placebo pills each pill pack (ie not getting a horrible, bloody, crampy period each month) means mine runs out a little earlier than insurance “deems necessary.” They are not doctors and many of them likely have never had a period. 
Folks should not have to get pregnant because insurance won’t authorize the medication. There is still red tape around accessing birth control. Many reproductive health centers are booked months out, as I had to wait three months to be seen in 2015. Gaps in care certainly still occur as well. 
As a sexual health nurse, many of my clients are in similar situations. Waiting to see a prescribing provider or trying to navigate accessing the medication while not having insurance is quite challenging. Most of my clients aren’t eligible for Medicaid because we didn’t expand it in Georgia. They also can’t afford insurance through the ACA so they are stuck in the very large gap in coverage. 
We cannot point fingers at folks that get pregnant unintentionally. It is proof that there is a systemic issue. Same with abortion; abortion is a symptom of a systemic problem. Insurance being run as a business rather than supporting folks when needed is still an issue. It was ludicrous to me that as a women’s healthcare provider myself, I was unable to access care and was fighting to get BC. 
The ACA is not perfect, but it certainly helped me access care. There are certainly ways we can improve chunks of it, but seeing college students still under their parents’ insurance, accessing BC and other reproductive healthcare and seeing people free up the copays they used to be paying is certainly a step in the right direction. Repealing the ACA and starting from scratch would be a huge mistake. —Mary K.,29

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HAWAII

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IDAHO

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ILLINOIS

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INDIANA

South Bend, IN: As a 15 year old, virgin I might add, I was first given the pill because I had cramping so horrible I would miss 1-3 days of school a month. Birth control helped me continue my straight-As and education without significant interruption. 
In my twenties I worked in the food and beverage industry and went years without insurance. I was denied coverage in my thirties when I finally had money to afford it because I took Wellbutrin for a short bout of seasonal depression. I was unable to get affordable birth control for many years, often opting to forego hormonal bc if I was in a relationship. I didn't want children yet so we used less proven methods of prevention and I was, thankfully, lucky. 
In 2014 I was able to enroll in our state market through ACA. I received a Pap smear and my regular check up for the first time in almost 8 years. I was able to get birth control again and choose the best one for my body. In 2015, I got married and am now, today, 34 weeks pregnant, by choice! My pregnancy has been covered and I haven't been in fear of losing our home or livelihood to have our baby, until now. We only want one child, so I'm hoping that I will still have coverage and options after birth to make the best choices for our family and future. I shouldn't have to decide whether to buy diapers or birth control. I'm in a loving, Hetero marriage, seemingly the ideal for the GOP, and should have the right to healthcare access for myself, husband and child. Our future matters and all Americans deserve dignity and healthcare. —Amy T., 35

 

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IOWA

Polk, IA: To be upfront, I am not a very sexually active individual. Even in my teenage years, I never really engaged in a lot of sexual activity (at least, not comparable to that of normal teens). Which, is why I never really practiced/used birth control until my early to mid 20's. Genetically, my reproductive system is predisposed to work in overtime...meaning, heavy, HEAVY periods, severe cramping, unpredictable cycles, etc. So, when I started experiencing cycles that lasted months at a time (at one point, 5 months straight of heavy menstruation), with only a minor break in between, I ended up becoming so anemic that my doctor recommended I use birth control pills as means to regulate my cycle/prevent further harm to my reproductive organs/ladyland. Granted, my lack of exposure/knowledge of the topic due to low sexual activity combined with a midwestern 'abstinence highly recommended/is the best form of contraception' education made me think 'huh?!'....but, after a couple of months taking birth control, my cycle became regular (like clockwork actually), I became healthy/strong....and I was able to function like a professional adult (i.e.—I was no longer tired due to the anemia/irritable/didn't have to stock up on boxes upon boxes of tampons, etc). Birth control is important to me for many reasons. First, as a working professional female, I know when I'll need to take into account my cycle into my schedule, and I won't have to worry about heavy menstruation/needing to bring an extra change of clothes just b/c I bleed heavier than the average person. Secondly, it affords me the ability to plan for my future/family, etc. AFFORDABLE birth control is even more important b/c as a recent law school graduate with ZERO income (at the moment)mdenying affordable access to means of preventative health cuts short my ability to maintain a healthy regime for reproductive care. Genetically, my mother, aunts (her sisters), and grandmother all experienced the same above symptoms—and all (or most) had to undergo hysterectomies by their mid to late 40's in order to prevent the affects of heavy bleeding/anemia. Which, in turn, threw their estrogen into orbit and caused other health problems. While this may or may not be in store for MY future (only time will tell), I do know that deviating from my current reproductive plan will increase this risk...and having to do so due to lack of access/affordability is rather unjust. For me, birth control is not just about sex...but rather a marvelous medical device to use as means to control and maintain a healthy reproductive lifestyle. I am thankful for it every day...and am grateful for those who fight for my right to continue to have access to such affordable care. —Alison S., 32

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KANSAS

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KENTUCKY

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LOUISIANA

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MAINE

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MARYLAND

Baltimore, MD: Prior to the ACA, I paid almost $1000 out of pocket for an IUD. I had been using the pill and the ring before that, but because of my erratic work schedule, it was prohibitively difficult to stay on track with birth control methods that I had to remember to use at a particular day or time. The IUD has been life-changing. Not only did it eliminate the opportunity to forget to take a pill or use a ring, I also got one of the most highly reliable methods of preventing pregnancy, so that I could wait to have a child when I had completed my medical training and felt more ready. I was tremendously fortunate to have had the resources to pay for the IUD essentially out-of-pocket, though it was a relative hardship at a time when I didn't have a lot of spare cash. For someone who has to choose between paying rent and getting an IUD, I can 100% understand why many people would choose essential expenses over contraception. Interestingly, after my daughter was born, I had a new IUD placed—at no additional out-of-pocket cost. Being able to choose the best method without concern for upfront cost is something that I want for all women. —Diane H., 38

La Plata, MD: I had my first pregnancy scare when I was seventeen, with my first boyfriend, and after my first sexual encounter. I was a star athlete and guaranteed to get an academic scholarship post high school. In going to the doctor, I was told no need to worry because you can't get pregnant anyway, you don't even ovulate. After hearing this my boyfriend and I were a bit relieved, but it was just the beginning of my problems. Fastforward to my freshman year of college, I missed at least two weeks of school consecutively due to severe anemia...my period would not end, for two weeks with a heavy flow. I thank God for my roommate who brought me food because I could not even get out of bed, my mom considered letting me take the semester off. I finally was able to see a doctor who had some experience with these symptoms, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It took until 2015 to find something that worked for me, which ended up being the pill. I have been getting a three month supply of the pill for free and been able to graduate, start a career, and live freely. Just this week, I went to get my birth control and was told I can now only get a one month supply for $10. My costs have gone up exponentially and Trump isn't even in office yet. This is terrifying. No-cost access BC has significantly changed my life. Beyond pregnancy prevention, it has given me the ability to live. Kiersten G., 22

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MASSACHUSETTS

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MICHIGAN

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MINNESOTA

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MISSISSIPPI

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MISSOURI

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MONTANA

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NEBRASKA

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NEVADA

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

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NEW JERSEY

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NEW MEXICO

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NEW YORK

Albany, NY—Provider Perspective: I'm a physician, an OBGYN specifically. When I started training, options for women living without insurance or under-insured were very limited. If they could afford a birth control pill it was often one that gave them symptoms (head aches, moodiness, loss of libido,etc) that would lead to them stopping the pill and getting pregnant. The ACA came into practice while I was a resident. Immediately there was an increase in the use of not only LARCs, but also pills that were once too expensive. Suddenly adherence to many methods wasn't an issue because the barrier to care had been removed. Now that I'm in private practice, my patient population has changed. Many of my patients are in college or grad school. Contraception is still very important and the most common topic I discuss with my patients. There is a general fear that they will not have access in the coming year if the ACA is repealed. Many are looking to get an IUD or Nexplanon just to avoid some of these barriers for the next few years. I can't fight against the tide of how things may change in this country. But I implore our new law makers to realize that many people did benefit from the ACA. And remind everyone that an unintended pregnancy is much more expensive to insurance over one year than any form of contraception would be over that same year. If it's just dollars and cents then it should be that simple. Contraception saves money. Please do not repeal our access. —Dr. Elizabeth E., 34

 

Bronx, NY—Provider Perspective: I am a Women's Health and Adult Primary care NP working in the Bronx NYC. I had a college-age female patient come in to see me the other day requesting an IUD ASAP "before Trump starts office since we do not know what will happen to our access to birth control once he is in office." She wanted a method that would last her the duration of his term since she was that concerned about her potential decreased access to care and since she wasn't sure what health care coverage would look like in the coming months and years. I was able to counsel her, discuss all options and insert her IUD before she returned to college from her winter break. This experience really left an impression on me as a provider because at the time she wasn't even sexually active but was so concerned about 1. access to care and contraception and 2. wanting to maintain control over her life goals/prevent pregnancy reliably until she is ready that she made this appointment while home on winter break to get a contraceptive method to serve for the potential duration of a Trump presidency. Many of my patients do not speak to me directly about their political thoughts or feelings about the presidency but this young student was motivated and aware and worried. She made a timely decision for the betterment of her health and to focus on her life goals while she still had access to a comprehensive health plan that allowed her to get an incredibly reliable and effective form of contraception that suits her needs. —Annelle T., 39

 

Far Rockaway, NY: This story starts with my first period, when I was 11 years old. I remember vividly how painful it was, but I just blamed it on it being my first period and not knowing much about periods. Now, at the age of 16 the pain did not lessen— throughout middle school and high school it was constant hospital trips, missing school, and pain so terrible that I wouldn't eat for 2-3 days. The decision was made between my mother and I to go to the gynecologist to inquire about birth control for the pain. I explain to the doctor how my pain levels were and that's when I realized the pain I was experiencing was not normal. That's when I received my first prescription of birth control pills and my quality of life changed immediately. First month of using the birth control pills I didn't feel like a "zombie" anymore and I was able to do normal everyday things while I was on my period. Now here's the kicker, every 3 months my mom would have to pay almost $100 and eventually $200 for a 3 month supply of pills. Simply this was not realistic for an upcoming college student. So during my first year of college during fall break I decided to go to my gyno. and change my birth control plan and that's when I found out about the nuva ring which was also covered completely by my insurance. The nuva ring changed my life because it was easier and so much harder to forget (For changing it in and out purposes). To end this story, I've been on birth control for 5 years now and it has been amazing! I know how difficult it can be to live with painful periods and not knowing what to do when those cramps, but just crawl into a fetal position. I don't plan to change my birth control plan because when I turned 16 and went to the gyno. it was the best decision of my life and I hope for more success stories like this for more females! —Sheneca S., 20

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NORTH CAROLINA

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NORTH DAKOTA

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OHIO

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OKLAHOMA

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OREGON

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PENNSYLVANIA

Larksville, PA: Before the ACA, I was taking the pill, which was costing me about $30 a month. That comes out to almost $400 every year! After the ACA, I was still getting charged for the pill and had to do some digging to find out that my insurance plan was only counting a handful of types as "free". The law didn't require all BC to be free, just at least one of each type. I took the list to my provider and she chose one that was very similar to what I was taking that would be free. I didn't want to switch, but it didn't make sense to keep spending so much money on something I needed for my health, as well as to prevent pregnancy. The switch wasn't too bad and saving money has been wonderful! I worry about losing that benefit if the ACA is repealed. My husband and I have bought a house and got a dog since the switch, and I don't have $400 to spare. We will have to spread our funds out even thinner to make things work if the ACA is repealed.—Jean H., 32

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RHODE ISLAND

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SOUTH CAROLINA

Spartanburg, SC: I struggled with getting birth control prior to college, and the passing of the ACA, due to lots of social stigma, and the fear that I would have crazy out of pocket costs for my birth control. After my freshman year of college, and hearing about how birth control was covered by the ACA, I went for it: I was going to get my IUD. The process of getting approved was easy, and before I knew it I had a LARC. A weight of worry was lifted off of my shoulders: my risks for cancer were down, and I was practically guaranteed no children for the next 5 years (now 7!). Now, a year and a half later, I have had no issues, lighter periods, and have a steady sexual partner with whom I don't have to concern pregnancy scares or extraneous contraceptives.—Victoria S., 20

 

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SOUTH DAKOTA

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TENNESSEE

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TEXAS

Arlington, TX: Between my husband and I, we have a total of 5 daughters ranging in age from 22 to 30. They all attended college and after graduated all became employed with companies that did not offer health insurance. We have been so very fortunate that we were able to keep them in our family insurance plan until they were able to secure their own! We still have one daughter that is in our plan, as she is 22 and working for a small event planning company. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, she is not sure what she is going to do in regards to her health insurance. As many young women her age, she needs preventive care, contraceptive care, and catastrophic health insurance. Please do not repeal Obamacare!—Josie T.D., 55

San Antonio, TX: I am 26 years old. I was surgically diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 23 after my 1st laproscopsy. My doctor urged me to get on birth birth control right away in order to avoid scared tissue build up, which was causing me a lot of pain during and near to my period. The pain was so great that I would often call in sick to work. I was not able to walk during my cramps, had difficulty going to the rest room and extreme back pain that was not controled with pain medication. So I took my doctor's advice and started taking the pill. Mind you, I am not on the pill to avoid pregnancy, for that I have a coper IUD. I am on the pill because of my medical condition. So at the beginning of this year when I picked up my prepscription at CVS I was shocked when the pharmacist asked me for an updated insurance card or to pay $600 dollars out of pocket for 3 month prepscription that I needed! $600 dollars! I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. Thankfully, I have insurance through my employer but my thoughts immediately went to those with high deductibles, who might be without health insurance this year, to several couples and women I know that need it. Why are we as Americans so concerned with making this medication unaffordable? Why? How does it harm society as a whole? Why is getting viagra easier than getting access to birth control? It's time to put our feelings aside when making legislations and start adding some commen sense to the process. The fact of the matter is, it should be a women's choice and our legislation is making it harder for us to make the choice. —Laura Z., 26

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UTAH

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VERMONT

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VIRGINIA

Arlington, VA: I love birth control. Not only because I get to enjoy a healthy sexual lifestyle without worrying about pregnancy, but because it controls my cystic acne and debilitating cramps. Birth control also gave me the freedom to get a double Masters degree in Public Health and Social Work. As someone who works in the public health field, I understand just how important birth control is for prevention. As someone with a background in social work, I understand the dynamics of class, race and gender and how birth control provides equity for women in the United States. 
My personal birth control story starts when I was 20. I started having casual sex and wanted to get protection from pregnancy. I was in college and I didn't want to get pregnant. I started out of the pill and it was terrible. My body had a very poor reaction to the pill I was taking and my hormones were out of flux. So I switched to a different pill. And then a different one. Eventually, I tried Depo-Provera but ended up having a two month long period. I then went back on the pill to control the long-term break-through bleeding caused by the Depo shot. Then, my doctor suggested I try Nuvaring. Using Nuvaring was like laying down in your bed after working for 24 hours straight —it was comfortable, it did not interfere with my moods and it corrected all the issues I was having with other forms of hormonal birth control. Nuvaring is the best birth control for me. None of the other forms of birth control have controlled my cramps, my acne or my moods as well as Nuvaring has. But, that's where the good news ends. 
I had graduate school insurance coverage until I was 26. My parents were uninsured so I did not benefit from that portion of the Affordable Care Act. However, I did receive my birth control for free through my graduate student insurance until I graduated in December 2014. Starting in January 2015, I've had to battle with three separate insurance companies to receive my legally entitled birth control method of choice. 
My first issue was with Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser denied my birth control request and charged me over $900 for 3 months of birth control. My plan was not grandfathered and my birth control method falls under 1 of the 19 forms of birth control that are required to be covered in full by the ACA under the contraceptive mandate. After many calls to the insurance company, I only paid $36 per month for the Nuvaring. Still blatantly illegal but more affordable. Several months later, insurance through my non-religious employer started (there was a waiting period). I worked for Prince George's County, Maryland. I tried requesting Nuvaring and once again, I was denied. The plan was ungrandfathered and had no religious exemptions. The representatives I spoke with on the phone even admitted that I was correct but still, I was charged for my birth control. I reported them to the National Women's Law Center. Finally, I chose to go back insurance through the Healthcare Exchange and I started insurance with CareFirst. They explicitly denied all coverage of Nuvaring with no explanation. My fight for my legally mandated birth control method has been long, stressful and much more difficult than it needs to be. Because of my background in public health, I know what is entitled to me through the Affordable Care Act because I've read the entire bill. I also know, personally, how important birth control is to me (not only for preventing pregnancies but so that my cramps don't restrict me to bed two days each month). It bothers me so much that congressional members are not listening to research, anecdotal evidence or logic and trying to remove the contraceptive mandate. I will continue to fight for my right to birth control. —Kimi N., 28

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WASHINGTON

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WEST VIRGINIA

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WISCONSIN

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WYOMING

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A group of teenage girls