Teen pregnancy rates dropping in King County

Health officials in King County and Seattle are happy about a new statistic showing a dramatic drop in teen pregnancy over a 7 year span. That rate could go back up if access to health care is reduced.

According to new numbers from King County Public Health, the number of teen pregnancies dropped by 55% between 2008 and 2015.*

King County Executive Dow Constantine tweeted the county is as large as 15 states and has the lowest teen birth rate of all of them.

What is King County doing that other cities and counties are not?
Reproductive Education efforts in schools play a big part, but the county is also crediting the Affordable Care Act.

Since the ACA took effect, more women have added access to a variety of effective birth control methods. All plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace must cover contraceptive methods without charging a co-payment or coinsurance. Those contraceptives include Barrier methods, birth control pills, implanted devices, emergency contraception like the Plan B pill, sterilization procedures and patient counseling.

But with the future of the ACA uncertain, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles says she and her colleagues are concerned if the new plan will include all contraceptives. She says a key to reducing teen pregnancy is offering options like an IUD, a long-acting reversible contraceptive that is usually cost prohibitive to someone without insurance.

Council Member Kohl-Welles says if the ACA is repealed and access to contraceptives is threatened, the county will step up.

“We would do all we can in King County, and I believe in the state, to pick up that gap in coverage, but it would be very costly,” says Kohl-Welles.

The council member hopes lawmakers in Washington think about the extra taxpayer costs associated with teens having children when considering a replacement for ACA. She says spending a little money up front will save big money down the line.

*Numbers from 2016 are not yet available.

Copyright 2017 KING


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