69% of Americans say insurance should cover birth control

Broad approval is eclipsed by support for other ACA rules



LOS ANGELES — Among the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, few are as controversial as the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception, yet a new survey finds that support for this rule is widespread, with 69 percent of Americans in favor of the mandate.

Among 2,124 adults surveyed in November 2013, 1,452 agreed that “health plans in the United States should be required to include coverage” for “birth control medications,” according to a research letter published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. An additional 436 respondents (19 percent) did not agree, 197 (10 percent) were uncertain and 39 (2 percent) refused to answer.

Women, African-Americans, Latinos and parents living with children under age 18 supported mandatory contraception coverage more than people in other demographic groups, the survey found. Respondents were not asked about their political or religious views.

A 69 percent approval rating may sound high for anything connected to Obamacare. (A Pew Research Center survey released in March found that only 41 percent of the public approved of the law on its fourth anniversary, compared with 53 percent who disapproved.) But every other service asked about was even more popular:

o 85 percent of those surveyed supported mandatory coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies.

o 84 percent supported mandatory coverage for recommended vaccines.

o 82 percent were in favor of mandatory coverage for diabetes and cholesterol screening tests.

o 77 percent backed mandatory coverage for mental health care.

o 75 percent supported mandatory coverage of dental care, including routine cleanings.

Indeed, 7.8 percent of those surveyed said they thought employers who offered health insurance should be required to cover every item on the list except birth control. Folks in this category were more likely to be male, over the age of 60 and not living with kids under age 18 — or, as the study authors noted, “unlikely to use such coverage.”

The survey was conducted by three researchers from the University of Michigan.