Pricier contraceptives for college women

Well this is fantastic. Prices of oral contraceptives are doubling and tripling on college campuses. While $30-45 might not sound ridiculously expensive — after all, you are preventing pregnancy — that’s a lot of money for a student living on a tight budget, especially if they’re used to only paying $10 or $15. My birth control is currently free and will hopefully stay that way since it isn’t an oral contraceptive, but I drop between $50 and $100 a month on other health-care-related expenses — jack that up to almost $150 and I would seriously consider going off if it. Some people are apparently arguing that if you want it bad enough you’ll shell out, but that’s just not an option for students who are living off of loans, who have no source of outside income, and who may have other expenses like children. If “pro-life” Republicans were actually concerned about keeping the abortion rate down, you’d think that they wouldn’t pass legislation that would make it harder for college women to prevent unwanted pregnancy. But as we’ve established time and again, preventing unintended pregnancy and abortion is the last thing on the “pro-life” agenda.

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29 comments for “Pricier contraceptives for college women

  1. March 23, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    BC prices are going up at Planned Parenthood as well. Maybe feminist blogs could coordinate a fund drive for PP sometime later this year…

    Just sayin’.

  2. TomCody
    March 23, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    When I was an undergrad my birth control was free but when I did my graduate studies at another school I had to pay $15. When I was at home for my semester off I had to pay the full price of $45 at Wal-Mart (had no other choice, they have become our only store) but my parents helped with that.

    This truly sucks.

  3. Mnemosyne
    March 23, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    And, of course, almost no school’s student health insurance covers maternity expenses, so if the student does get pregnant, she’s really shit out of luck and the school can walk away without paying a dime.

  4. March 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    Well gosh, if they’re in college then they’re probably getting all sorts of uppity ideas that they’re people – far better for an unwanted pregnancy to force them out of school and into some dude’s control, right?

  5. Beebles
    March 23, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    It’s an imperfect, temporary solution, but a lot of big research universities have some sort of clinical trials where women who participate get free birth control. Frankly, the best way to get your female health needs attended to was to participate in those trials. I got chekups every three months, birth control, the HPV vaccine, and compensation for my time. Of course it’s absolutely ridiculous that young women would be priced out of contraception, but being a lab rat could be an option…

  6. March 23, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Get your Canadian friends to help you out! I’ve been paying out of pocket for my Pills since I left my previous job and lost my employer health benefits. When I had benefits it was nice that my Pills were one less bill every month I had to worry about, but even out of pocket they only cost $14-$17 a month here at almost every pharmacy. I know the US is trying to crack down on American residents ordering prescriptions online through Canadian websites, but maybe you could look into this.

    Geez, I hope this price hike doesn’t affect Canadians. Now I’m freaked out. Is it a governmental initiative or are the drug companies bumping up prices for medications that, while not LIFE SUSTAINING LITERALLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT medications, are an essential part of many many womens’ health mandate and therefore they feel they HAVE to buy? Either way, the whole thing stinks. If the drug companies are the ones bumping up the cost of BCP, then we are all screwed!!!

  7. Arianna
    March 23, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Jesus, how is it that your birth control costs so much in the states? I’m insured right now so I’m not paying for it, but when I was uninsured for a while it was something like $26/month for tricyclen, and it would have been something like $10 or $15 at the campus pharmacy had I been a student at that point.

    $45 a month is ludicrous.

  8. Arianna
    March 23, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Oh, and that’s in Canadian dollars at that.

  9. sophonisba
    March 23, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Am I unusual in assuming that if a couple are exclusive with each other, the guy will pay for half the birth control costs? I would say he should pony up for all of it, since the woman will pay all the physical cost if it goes wrong, and since she is the one who is going to have to be taking the drugs, but I’ve always been happy to settle for half. Are people talking as though women will be paying for this all by themselves because we assume their boyfriends won’t kick in, or because most women don’t think to ask? (Or don’t want to ask, for whatever reason.)

    Not, of course, that every sexually active college woman has or wants an exclusive boyfriend, but lots of them do.

  10. Arianna
    March 23, 2007 at 8:32 pm


    The price hike is due to a change in some US law re: Medicare that makes the drug companies offering discounts to colleges no longer give them a discounted rate to join Medicare, so it isn’t as profitable for the drug companies to offer discounts to the universities/colleges anymore.

    So yes, it’s a US government thing and no, it shouldn’t affect our prices here.

  11. March 23, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    I never asked a boyfriend to pay for my pills, but I usually used a backup method as well, i.e. condoms, and he handled those while I handled the pills.

  12. Grace
    March 23, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    I’m insured but my insurance doesn’t cover birth control. (nice, eh?) I am currently paying $45 a month for a generic version of my pill. This is up from the $25 I was paying literally four months ago. The cost of my pills has gone up $5 a month, every month, since I started this particular pill, although my research indicates $45 is actually a low price to be paying for this pill (state-side, anyway). I’m wondering if anyone else paying for obc out-of-pocket is having this same experience with monthly increasing prices? It’s kind of making me a bit angry.

  13. Trouble
    March 23, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    $45 a MONTH! Here in the land of socialised medicine, I bitch and moan about having to attend a $70 doctor’s appointment once a year to obtain a 6 month prescription, and another $14 to renew that prescription. The pills themselves are only $3 every six months. That’s with a government subsidy on one particular brand (Norimin) brought in by an administration that wanted to bring down its welfare bills, but even unsubsidised, they’re about $20. That’s US$14. I suspect if I wanted to go on a different brand the prices would be higher.

    When I was a student, the doctor’s appointment only cost $20 at a general practice. Student Health was free but you had to wait ages for an appointment.

    You’re right to be angry – it could be so much better. Clinical trials, bloody hell.

  14. hp
    March 23, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    I just paid $85 for three months of my generic pill (via the “cheap” mail order place). As of Jan 1, our insurance no longer covers prescription meds until you hit the family deductible of $2400.

  15. March 24, 2007 at 1:20 am

    As other Canadians have said, birth control is definitely cheaper here. I pay about $25 a month, and I consider that fairly pricey (but the more expensive formulation is the one that works for me, so…). I’m reasonably certain that’s not a government-subsidised price. I mean, I don’t have extended health (or dental, sigh) right now, so I’m buying them from the pharmacy and paying the whole cost myself. My income isn’t low enough for me to qualify for a subsidy, and even if it was, I’d know about the subsidy. You have to apply for stuff like that, and fill out forms. It’s not automatic.

    It seems really weird to me that me buying oral contraceptives on the open market up here is significantly cheaper than buying the same contraceptives below the border. I could possibly get some at the local price and ship them south? But that could be illegal. At any rate, I’m pretty damn sure it’s frowned upon.

  16. March 24, 2007 at 4:19 am

    If “pro-life” Republicans were actually concerned about keeping the abortion rate down, you’d think that they wouldn’t pass legislation that would make it harder for college women to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

    I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, Jill, but they don’t care about reducing the abortion rate. They want you (i.e., women) to stop fucking. That’s what it’s all about. Never mind that this means that, if they have their way, women won’t put out for men. See, that’s perfect, because then men are there to tell you when to put out. It’s the perfect balance.

    Maggie Gallagher even all but says in her latest column that the reason gay marriage is bad is because it prevents straight people from fucking. I’m not sure how exactly it does this, and I’m not sure why, and rest assured she doesn’t bother to belabor us with any substantiating evidence. It’s absolutely breathtaking / puzzling / WTF-ing, the argument she puts forth.

  17. Thealogian
    March 24, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Didn’t we just get a Democratically Controlled Congress? Let’s make a stink about this and get Pelosi and the band backtogether on basic subsidies for birth-control!

  18. March 24, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Kiki Says:

    Is it a governmental initiative or are the drug companies bumping up prices for medications that, while not LIFE SUSTAINING LITERALLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT medications, are an essential part of many many womens’ health mandate and therefore they feel they HAVE to buy?

    For some people, BC is nearly life-sustaining, literally-cannot-live-without medication. If you take it to prevent migraines, or to offset the effects of endometriosis, there’s a lot more at stake than preventing pregnancy. Especially for a student, who is probably under an extreme amount of stress as it is without being debilitatingly sick all the time.

  19. Meri
    March 24, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    This makes me so glad that my campus offer free birth control (pills and condoms) as well as free std testing and pap smears. And it’s one of the cheaper colleges around.

  20. Parmenides
    March 24, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    This is odd considering when I worked in a pharmacy way back in 99 birth control without insurance was about 20 dollars. What’s with the increase in price.

  21. coffeeandadonut
    March 24, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    When I started on the pill just over ten years ago as an undergrad, the cost of a pill pack was about $12 and I had about 7 or 8 versions I could choose from based on my personal hormonal specifications. Over the course of my undergrad and graduate career I’ve watched in horror as the prices have steadily increased and the types of pills offered has decreased to the point where I now have to shell out $35 a month for pills that screw with my body and that I absolutely hate because they’re the only ones left at the “student rate”.

    And when I lamented the fact that so few companies offer pills at a lowered rate, the girl at the counter said, “well, I guess we should be grateful that we get them at all”. Yeah, bitch, cuz that attitude’s really gonna ensure that we do.

  22. Denise
    March 24, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    My birth control costs went from $17.50 per 3-week effective dose to $43 with this legislation. Birth control is a necessary part of my personal health care, as without it I am debilitated for 3 days per month. I am fortunate to have insurance that covers 80% of the cost, but a lot of people don’t, and if I had any debt my grad student stipend would be even more stretched.

    I guess I need to get off my bum and write my BC manufacturer of choice, since it seems to be the pharma companies’ decision that clinical rates on BC were less profitable without the tax break, rather than a direct legislative removal of the category. F’ing profit-driven medicine. How’s Speaker Pelosi coming on her promised universal health care agenda?

  23. Melissa M.
    March 25, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    As long as health care providers and Senators and such think of birth control and other women’s medications as frivolous, we can expect drug companies and health insurance to charge as much as they can get away with for bith control. Sad but true story: I take birth control for severe menstrual cramps (it works a lot better than pain medication, I’ve been cramp free for several years when before the BC I literally couldn’t rise from bed one day a month without throwing up from the pain). I am also gay. One of my friends commented that I am every insensitive guy’s dream: a hot lesbian who can’t get pregnant. I kid you not. Sad huh. There a men out there for whom lesbian is a turn on and the only reason a lesbian would be on birth control is if might be willing to screw them.

  24. Benji
    March 25, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Well me and my girlfriend split the costs of the pill between us so it’s really not that high a price to pay. That being said considering how freakin poor we are as undergrads any increased costs are a BAD thing.

    I also hear there is a new male oral contraceptive undergoing trials, its an interesting development.

  25. Shannon
    March 25, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Wow, I was just bitching about this to a couple of friends a few days ago. My university insurance doesn’t cover birth control but will cover all pregnancy and labor and delivery costs. Is that actually financially beneficial for any insurance company to do? It doesn’t make any sense at all.

    A friend of mine is on birth control because she was literally having a period every two weeks. Her doctor at the university health center even called the insurance company and told them that if she didn’t take birth control she was going to end up in the hospital and they still wouldn’t cover it. If she paid for it herself it was going to be about $50 a month, so instead she’s gotten it through Planned Parenthood for $13 a month, which she can manage financially.

    I haven’t ever been on birth control, but lately I’ve been considering it. It would be a lot more convenient though if I could just get a prescription from on of the doctors here rather than having to drive half an hour to get to the closest PP. I imagine that it would be really hard for someone who didn’t have a car, though. Luckily I have that luxury.

  26. Melissa M.
    March 25, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Thankfully I have decent insurance. I does make me disgusted with the religious right (what else is new) that they seem to think that birth control is a “life style” drug that women use as an excuse to have sex. A lot of women including college students do use birth control to keep from geting pregnant if they have sex, but taking birth control doesn’t suddenly make a woman really really horny. Plus a lot of women have medical reasons to be on the pill. I think part of the problem is that many men don’t understand that periods can be painful or that women who want sex want a way to prevent pregnancy that they rather than their partners control. If religious conservative men had cramps or had to worry about getting pregnant as an undergraduate (now that is expensive) they would be less likely to pass legislation to make birth control expensive. Why some women want to make it harder for college students to buy birth control, I don’t know. Honestly, you would think that they would know better.

  27. Psychobunny
    March 26, 2007 at 1:54 am

    Christ on stoats, in my neck of the woods (NZ), the appointment to get a prescription for the Pill is free (thanks to the University Health Centre), prescriptions for condoms are available over the counter, and at the end of the day it’s $6 (say, US$3?) to get 6 months’ worth of prescription at the pharmacy.
    I am NEVER going to live in the States.

  28. subgrrl8
    March 26, 2007 at 5:05 am

    why am i not surprised.

    those of us who, hormonally, can NOT use the pill have been discriminated against for a while. and it varies so much from coverage to coverage. i’ve been on the Ring for about a year now, and in that time i’ve seen my prices go from about $20 for 3 months to $75 for three months of just the Ring. keep in mind that if i had no health insurance what so ever right now, i could get the Ring for free from a local free clinic.

    we need to keep pressing this point, especially because these hormones treat a wide variety of “female health issues”- everything from endo to amenorrhea, from migraines to debilitating cramps, to infertility-creating disorders like poly-cystic ovarian syndrome. it isn’t just a reproductive health issue- it is a general health issue for women.

    my partner doesn’t pay for my b.c., but he pays for a lot more- he makes almost 3 times more than i do right now, so i take care of some rent and my personal bills- my prescriptions (b.c. and synthroid), my cell phone, my credit card and my student loans.

    i’m actually so fed up with the hormone wars that i’ve got an appointment for the copper IUD on April 30. 10 years of non-hormonal birth control for a 20% procedure copay. even if i have to pay $200 for the procedure, it is cheaper than $300 a year for the Ring. thankfully, i don’t *need* the hormones, as the only thing affecting my gonads is my hypothyroidism, which should be in control now and not causing amenorrhea anymore (which is how i was dianosed hypothyroid, btw- didn’t get my period for 4 months).

  29. March 26, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Clearly we need to sponsor massive condom giveaways at college campuses. It’s not a solution, but it’s a good idea and will certainly piss off the paleos.

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