We all know that women have some unique challenges related to the fact that our bodies are designed to incubate, and then deliver into the world, entirely new human beings. Our special talent comes with significantly higher healthcare needs, as we require a decent amount of upkeep.

How much? Good Magazine recently calculated the "cost of being female," which varies widely, but ranges from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Consider pelvic exams, which are recommended for women annually starting when they are 18 years old. Most women will have more than 50 during their lifetime. A woman who has insurance and pays $40 per exam will spend more than $2,000 over the decades, while one without insurance, who pays $140 per exam at Planned Parenthood, racks up a total bill of more than $7,000.

Birth control is also pricey, costing anywhere from $3,600 to $18,000 for a lifetime of protection, depending on the type of birth control, insurance coverage and frequency of use. (The high prices have even created a black market for birth-control pills and emergency contraception, as my colleague Catherine New reported in April). Women also pay for screenings for gestational diabetes, as well as testing and counseling around HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and domestic violence.

No Co-Pays for Birth Control

It's no wonder, then, that so many Americans are celebrating Monday's announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Beginning on Aug. 1, 2012, insurance providers will no longer be able to charge co-pays or other additional fees for government-approved birth control or a handful of other medical services. (The complete list of free women's services is based on recommendations the National Academy of Sciences presented in July.)

The law aims to increase preventive care -- including mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks and childhood immunizations -- by banning co-payments, deductibles and other charges for those services, according to The New York Times.

The idea behind the law, which is part of the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, is to prevent health problems from developing, as opposed to treating them once there's an issue, thereby maintaining a healthier population and lower health-care costs. As HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press release, "these historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventative health benefits they need."

Potential Taxpayer Savings

In a study titled "The Public Costs of Births Resulting from Unintended Pregnancies: National and State-Level Estimates," Guttmacher Institute researchers found that two-thirds of the births resulting from unintended pregnancies -- more than 1 million births -- are publicly funded, making up more than 80% of the total births in a couple of U.S. states. It estimates the cost of those births, and the potential gross savings from helping women to avert them, at a whopping $11.1 billion.

A second study, "Unintended Pregnancy and Taxpayer Spending," by researchers at the Brookings Institution, estimated a health-care cost of between $9.6 billion and $12.6 billion per year, with an average of $11.3 billion per year, for unintended pregnancies. Preventing these pregnancies would save taxpayers between $4.7 billion and $6.2 billion per year, with an average of $5.6 billion per year.

Religious Institutions Exempt

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Valerie Terzi

In your report you write as if the Catholic Church is exempt from this birth control bill, but according to other sources, the Church has one year to begin to comply with the birth control bill that totally ignores the Catholic belief. you may not agree with the Catholic Church or understand the Church's stance on birth control, but surely you can see the persecution that is being inflicted here. Time Magazine quotes Cardinal Dolan "“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience,” said New York Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”
Furthermore, this report seems to try and make it seem ok for the government to push their agenda on the Church by stating that many Catholics use birth control. It doesn't matter if they do, the Church itself is against it and for good reason, though it would take to long to explain here, however, it doesn't matter why, it only matters that our government is now pushing their beliefs on our Church and forcing the Church to comply with something that goes against it's faith. This is a dangerous precedent that needs to be stopped. I'm a Democrat but I will never vote for anyone that thinks he knows better than my Catholic Church.

January 22 2012 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

nothing wrong with the insurance companies paying out....they can collect the money but they dont want to provide services...higher copays, higher premiums...soaring profits...they are just in it for the money. I believe that is where we need one system....we all need care...head to toe..insurance companies have so many stipulations...try to go the dentist now there is another bunch of thieves..wake up and see that we are all gonna be sick in the end and insurance isnt gonna help, only the super rich will live long lives.

August 03 2011 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why should I pay for someone elses decision to have sex? Preventative health care starts with persoinal responsibility not government mandates. Goverment mandates without pewrsonal repossibility from the intended beneficiaries of the program only punishes those who are forced to subsidize bad behavior. Without personal responsibility none of this will work. Does anyone really belive we will see rediced health insurance premiums becasue of this? If you do, you are a fool. Obama is a fool because he does not account for basic human nature when formulating policies. When people get free stuff the do not appreciate it, they come to rely on it. That is life. Rather he simply plods along based on what he feels the world should be like rather than taking into account the way things are.

August 03 2011 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Greg's comment

You already DO. Most insurance covers Viagra. yet before now, most insurance DIDN'T cover birth control. Does that sound equal and fair to you?

Women who take birth control are generally speaking responsible people. Problem is that many of them stop taking it because they CAN'T AFFORD IT. It get pricy.

The way things are; people have sex and we can't stop them from having it. The best we can do is ensure they're able to make the right choices that are best for them.

August 07 2011 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It should be the guys responsibilty also. Where can I get some free condums?

August 03 2011 at 12:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is a new and ridiculous burden for taxpayers. I took birth control pills for years and years and paid for them myself. The irresponsibility level in people today, those younger ones who want to have a baby to "love them" and those who know they can collect more welfare with each additional child, will certainly not use birthcontrol, free or not! Get real!

August 03 2011 at 11:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sondravvag's comment

And WHY did you have to pay for them yourself? Because insurance didn't cover them, yet they will cover male enhancement drugs. Sound fair?

You are also overlooking the crucial point; women who are responsible will be the ones taking birth control and they no longer have to pay the expensive co-pay. Many of them have to make tough choices about which to pay for. The coverage should be and now will be there for those women who do need it and will act responsibly.

August 07 2011 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Humans are the number one cause of this Earths demise. If you truly want to save the planet, use population control!!!

August 03 2011 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Free birth control is 40 years late and should be mandated for those who are on welfare and also illegals. Unwanted pregnancy is a major reason our entitlement programs are broke.

August 03 2011 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to josephn126's comment

Oh you are going to popular on this board! NOT! But absolutely correct you are.

August 03 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

double edged sword!!! it's nice to see that things women need are becoming free,but that lost revenue
will have a price. less workers, poorer quailty care, no upgrades in equiptment,etc. nothing comes for free
and obamacare will prove that statement to be fact. just wait , if you try to sell your house next year, you 'll see
how much free costs you!!!

August 03 2011 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This message is for RASHARD411: You must have no respect for your mother or any female in your family or close friends for that matter. You must be a miserable lost soul with so much hate! Did you forget you came from a "FEMALE"? Be "THANKFUL" that your mother chose to bring you to this world instead of aborting you! Be happy that you have life and your here today to talk all your non-sense! In the mean time, stop being such a BIGOT and try looking for a Psychologist! You desperately need help!!

August 03 2011 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DC0077's comment

This is for all the feminist my mom agrees my sister to and my wife is pregant. I'm black man and I've seen first hand what is happening to those that are given more and more free $***. So don't speak to me. If you are not that type of women shhhh! If you are the woman that ruins mens life through the unfair tilted law system then yes you are who I'm talking to. I'm not a fool and I call a spade a spade. All my friends hate their babies mothers and their babies mother's don't like my friends they were all caught in the moment and weren’t being smart. Is that my fault NO! They are now on welfare and my tax dollars should not go to people who are gaming the system and knew better when the had those drink or whatever and didn't strap up. I was raised knowing no marriage no kids! Women choose to keep the kids. They know if the man they chose is no good and if they don't know then use protection or don't do it till you do fill the risk is worth it! Remember what you do effects others! I doubt a man if he had a pill to take would forget to take it if he doesn't want a child! The laws give men to many reason not to play that game! I know guys that have been trapped but not me. It runs ramped in my world. I'll tell any woman the same thing. It's about the kids and their future and most women today don't want to be accountable for $*** and you know that since you are some defensive.

Yes I know for a fact who my MOST productive works were and they were treated the same men or women. I know the truth about how it really works DEARY! It not what we are brainwashed/indoctrinated to believe!

GUESS WHAT…I came from my dad first! I got his blood, his last name, and his features. Hate to trivialize it but you and females in general are the field. That's where the term play the field came from. We have what the call the seed and we plant it.

If my dad didn't marry my mom and if not for her complaining about everything he did. She'd have his new wife's place in their 6 car garage house. She gets have of his retirement and yet he’s better off than he was with my mother. Some women are dream killers and my mom was just that. He stay long enough to send my sister to college and for me to finish high school and start a business. It's been over 12 year since the divorced she still mad fusing about how bad men are. Things are suppose to be 50/50 and equal and our country is anything but.

My sister hasn't talked my dad more that 20 times in 12 years and he made sure she was taking care of. She works in the government hates her job her life and she over weight has a chip on her shoulder toward men. I’m nice but I will straight talk you to death I dn’t play that. Most women like because they know where they stand with me and I don’t play games. I’m use know stocks can fix my own houses cars and I’m debt free. If my wife and I don’t make it she’ll have a house paid in full. I all ready own a few! I put that in writing and she has a copy. We knew each other a long time before we go married and we get along like the couples from the old days with a new twist. The men in my family don’t make bas***’s and we stay till the last ones grown. It’s family tradition. SO CANCEL THAT NOISE I BET YOU ARE SINGLE AND MEN DON’T RESPECT YOU!!!

A “MRA!!!” From the last batch of 100% USDA MALES

August 03 2011 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Let's make the nanny state complete by making insurance companies throw in free condoms for men and somone certified to put them on the man's thingy.

August 03 2011 at 10:40 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply