Survey released at ACOG meeting reports delay in pregnancy and annual check-ups

According to results of a gallup organization survey released during the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 57th Annual Clinical meeting in Chicago, women are delaying important preventive care—in the form of pregnancy and annual check-ups—as a result of the economy.

The survey was conducted on behalf of ACOG and its findings are similar to other recent reports on the economy's effect upon health care utilization, including a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that reported 15% of Americans have cut pills in half or skipped doses to put off refilling a prescription and 19% have delayed getting preventive care.

Gallup's on-line survey reached more than 1000 women ages 18-44, and found that the economy's effect on women has reached very personal and intimate areas of their lives, namely decisions about sex and family planning. Here are some of the survey results:

• Two-thirds of women (66%) ages 18-44 report that they have been affected, at least to some extent, by the country's economy, including 18% who say the nation's economy has affected them a great deal and 48% who say they have been personally affected to some extent. More specifically,

—One in eight women (12%) says they have experienced a job loss as a result of the economy.

—Six percent of women report having lost their health insurance.

—Nine percent of women report they have taken on an extra job.

—One in seven (14%) says they have postponed an annual ob-gyn check-up.

—Fifteen percent report having cut back or stopped taking some medications because of the cost.

• The vast majority of women (88%) report that they have health care coverage.

• Compared to 12 months ago, roughly 10% of women currently using some form of birth control say they are worried they may not be able to afford it. Among women using a hormonal method of contraception, 13% report that they are worried that they may not be able to pay for it.

• Among women currently using birth control, 12% report that they have switched or changed birth control methods in the past year. Of these women, 14% switched because of the cost, 18% changed because of a doctor's recommendation, and 38% switched due to health reasons.

• Only 3% of women report having stopped using a birth control method in the past year because they couldn't afford it. Among women currently using a hormonal method, this doubles to 6%.

• Women reported that, on average, having a reliable method of contraception is extremely important to them (a 9 on a 10-point scale).

• Compared to women who say that they have been affected at least to some extent by the country's economy, those women who say that they have been affected a great deal are more than twice as likely to report that they have decided to limit the size of their family (29% vs. 13%); are more than twice as likely to talk to their partner about having an unintended pregnancy (26% vs. 12%); and are more than three times as likely to postpone a planned pregnancy (15% vs. 5%).

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