To evaluate whether a public program providing long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods free of charge increases the LARC initiation rate and reduces the unintended pregnancy rate in the general population.Methods
Since 2013, all women in Vantaa, Finland, have been entitled to 1 LARC method free of charge. With time-series analysis between 2000 and 2015, we assessed whether this public program was associated with changes in steady-state mean rates of LARC initiation and abortions.Results
The initiation rate of LARCs (1/1000 women) increased 2.2-fold from 1.9 to 4.2 after the intervention (P < .001). Concomitantly, the abortion rate (1/1000 women) declined by 16% from 1.1 to 0.9 in the total sample (P < .001), by 36% from 1.3 to 0.8 among those aged 15 to 19 years (P < .001), and by 14% from 2.0 to 1.7 among those aged 20 to 24 years (P = .01).Conclusions
The LARC program was associated with increased uptake of LARC methods and fewer abortions in the population.Public Health Implications
Entitling the population to LARC methods free of charge is an effective means to reduce the unmet need of contraception and the need for abortion, especially among women younger than 25 years.