A recent national survey conducted by Power to Decide, which surveyed 500 women in the US between age 18 to 29 in May 2020, shows that telehealth is a viable option for many people to obtain birth control. Even before the challenges COVID-19 has created for people in accessing reproductive health care, millions of people had difficulty accessing care. Nearly 20 million people of reproductive age in the US who are in need of publicly funded contraception live in contraceptive deserts, counties that lack reasonable access to a health center offering the full range of methods. For all of these people, getting contraception means having to do more than showing up to an appointment. It could mean traveling a long distance, taking time off work, or finding childcare. Telehealth can also help overcome some of these common barriers and allow people to get their birth control.
The majority of respondents (67%) agree that telehealth is an acceptable way to receive birth control. This can be especially true for those who don’t feel safe leaving the house or going into a provider’s office or have lost their health insurance due to unemployment during the pandemic.Power to Decide found that the majority (77%) of respondents agreed that telehealth is a useful method to get birth control when in-person visits with a provider are not possible. While some providers’ offices remain open during social-distancing guidelines, the future is unclear. Most people (57%) reported that they were likely to talk to their health care provider about telehealth options available to them in the next 6 months.
Telehealth holds great promise to increase access for many, but unfortunately, it isn’t a perfect solution to access problems. For the approximately 19 million people in America who still lack reliable internet it may not be an option at all. Further, too many people lack information regarding how to use telehealth. Just 35% of respondents reported being able to explain what telehealth is. In addition, only 25% of respondents understood that they could use telehealth without insurance. It’s important to know that lots of telehealth options are affordable without insurance, and many insurance plans cover telehealth. Less than a quarter (24%) knew how to find a telehealth provider. If you or someone you know could benefit from accessing birth control through telehealth, spread the word!