Burden of unintended pregnancy in the United States: potential savings with increased use of long-acting reversible contraception

Contraception. 2013 Feb;87(2):154-61. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2012.07.016. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


Background: This study evaluated the total costs of unintended pregnancy (UP) in the United States (US) from a third-party health care payer perspective and explored the potential role for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) in reducing UP and resulting health care expenditure.

Study design: An economic model was constructed to estimate direct costs of UP as well as the proportion of UP costs that could be attributed to imperfect contraceptive adherence. The model considered all women requiring reversible contraception in the US: the pattern of contraceptive use and the rates of UP were derived from published sources. The costs of UP in the United States and the proportion of total cost that might be avoided by improved adherence through increased use of LARC were estimated.

Results: Annual medical costs of UP in the United States were estimated to be $4.6 billion, and 53% of these were attributed to imperfect contraceptive adherence. If 10% of women aged 20-29 years switched from oral contraception to LARC, total costs would be reduced by $288 million per year.

Conclusions: Imperfect contraceptive adherence leads to substantial UP and high, avoidable costs. Improved uptake of LARC may generate health care cost savings by reducing contraceptive non-adherence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraception / economics
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage
  • Cost Savings / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Implants
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned*
  • United States


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Drug Implants