Students Paying More for Birth Control
March 30, 2007 11:10 AM
Financially strapped college students, who use their school’s health services for their primary care needs, may have to ditch the pill and opt for other pregnancy preventative measures.
SF State students have experienced a gradual rise in the cost of birth control pills due to proposed changes in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, pertaining to prescription drugs under the Medicaid program. The plans also include changes to be made to established Medicaid rebate policies.
“[The proposed provisions] are a way to rein in drug pricing,” said Madlyn Kruh, contact for nominal price issues for the Health and Human Services Agency. “The deficit reduction declared that only certain entities could receive nominal prices; it is a way of tightening who [drug manufacturers] can offer discounted prices to.”
The provisions now exclude college campuses, nationwide, from receiving discounted prices on oral contraceptives. Students who paid $10 for a 28-day supply of the pill, a few months ago, now dole out three times that amount to refill their prescriptions.
And brand-name birth controls pills such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Yasmin and Yaz cost $49, per month, at SF State.
Touting a 92-99.7 percent rate of effectiveness, the pill is also credited with regulating the menstrual cycle, promoting a clear complexion and reducing the risk of ovarian cancer. Since it was approved by the FDA in 1960, millions of women have, increasingly, made popping the pill a part of their daily routine. College students are no exception.
According to the American College Health Association, among those surveyed, 39.8 percent of female college students reported that they used birth control pills the last time they had sexual intercourse.
Many SF State students don’t believe the added cost will impact the number of those who use the drug.
“People are going to continue to use the pill,” said Amber Sandhu, 23, journalism major and part-time nurse. “Sex is part of life, and most college students don’t want to get pregnant.”
SF State Heath Educator Kamal Harb, MPH, corroborated student suspicions.
“Students did not stop taking the pill,” said Harb. “They just switched to a cheaper brand.”
But generic brand pills such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Nordette will still cost students $29 per month.
For students looking to save some cash, the SF State Health Center has a limited supply of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo and Desogen 28 available for $10 for a pack of 28.
Students burdened by the elevated cost may also find solace in the Family PACT program that was established at SF State in August 2006.
Family PACT provides extensive free coverage, including the cost of oral contraceptives, HIV screening and annual exams with Pap smear.
Anyone making $1,634 per month, or less, is eligible for enrollment. Signing up is fairly simple. Applicants need only fill out an application. Proof of salary or tax forms are not required, and the entire enrollment process takes about 20 minutes.
Roughly 3,900 SF State students have signed up with the program since its inception.
“The [oral contraceptive] price hike coincided with the implementation of Family PACT,” said Harb. “So many students did not have to bear the increased costs.”
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