Public funding for family planning also helps insurance enrollment

A number of recent federal policy proposals imperil public funding for family planning providers. Most analyses have focused on how funding cuts would increase the cost of family planning care. A recent study highlights how cuts may also harm a lesser-known but vital service that these providers offer: insurance enrollment support.

Patient and billing assistant
In California, where this study took place, publicly funded family planning providers are the only source of health care services for many disadvantaged people. For those patients, these providers are also their primary source of information about the health care system and how to navigate it. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, those navigation efforts have centered on helping patients understand, and when possible, enroll in insurance—often for the first time.

Among the 684 publicly funded family planning sites in California that responded to this study, the majority reported providing patients with, at a minimum, key information about insurance. Specifically:

  • 68 percent check whether uninsured clients meet criteria for enrollment;
  • 77 percent provide education on insurance enrollment;
  • 55 percent provide on-site enrollment assistance; and
  • 91 percent refer uninsured clients to at least one source for off-site enrollment support.

At the same time, about half of the sites reported that lack of staff time (52 percent) and lack of funding (47 percent) are key barriers to offering enrollment support. Cuts to their public funding would exacerbate those challenges and potentially reduce the enrollment support they can offer.

As Congress considers various policies affecting public funding for family planning providers, it is important to understand the full breadth of the services they provide their communities.