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Personal Health : High Cost Limits Use of Norplant

March 29, 1994|SHARI ROAN

For a product that was supposed to represent the best new contraceptive in more than two decades, Norplant is not setting any popularity records, a study shows.

The implant device, which features tiny hormone-containing rods that are surgically inserted into the upper arm, was found in a September, 1992, survey to be offered in just four of 10 family planning clinics nationwide.

The findings appear in the new issue of Family Planning Perspectives, published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

Cost is the culprit, according to health experts.

Women who obtain Norplant from a private physician probably initially pay more than $500.

And family planning clinics are extremely limited in how widely they can offer Norplant because of high upfront costs.

Women on Medicaid, however, were much more likely to receive the implant, raising the criticism that the method might be targeted to very poor, often minority women, with the potential danger of these women being pressured to use this specific method.

While the study ended in September, 1992, it is unlikely Norplant usage rates have increased much because the high-cost problems remain, officials said.

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