Forget buying that new pair of stilettos, ladies, the price of birth control is up and you have to start saving.
Young women all across the country are now having to clean out their pockets every month to have their birth control prescriptions filled. With the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which came into effect in January of this year, and because the stockpiled birth control has begun to run low, prices have skyrocketed, some to nearly four times their original cost.
One supposedly unintended result of the Deficit Reduction Act prevented drug manufacturers from providing university health centers and low-cost clinics with discounted birth control rates. University women everywhere are now having to find either a cheaper alternative, pay the extreme prices, or get off birth control all together – all of which are less than ideal for a sexually active college student.
For the many students taking brand name oral contraceptives like Ortho Tri-Cyclen, which has shot up in price from $12.50 to nearly $50, the high cost has become too much of a burden and many have had to switch to a generic and cheaper form, such as Apri, which now costs $15 per month.
Last year, a prescription for NuvaRing, a vaginal contraceptive, from the UCSC health center cost $12.50 per month. As of this fall, its price has gone up to $46 per month. This form of birth control, which is encouraged for those who have difficulty taking pills, has lost many of its users in the past few months, leaving many women looking for an alternative.
Having to find a new birth control prescription and then making the switch can be troublesome for many women. Whether it be the switch to oral contraceptives or just a cheaper version of it, the fact is that women use a specific prescription because it is compatible with their bodies and it works for them. Creating a situation in which women have to choose between compromising their financial situation and their health is less than fair.
For students on university health insurance rather than their parents’, the rise in cost also jeopardizes the issue of confidentiality. Because some women choose to take birth control without their parents’ knowledge, higher prices on campus could force them to have to call on parents for financial help or switch insurance, taking away confidentiality.
The passing of this act hasn’t been all negative for the parties involved though. Drug companies are making full profit and bringing in money hand over fist, but at the expense of college students and low-income people who used to rely on discounted birth control rates.
Why are people who are trying to be responsible and practice safe sex being punished? There needs to be a change in the legislation and quickly before high prices start preventing birth control users from being able to take their appropriate prescriptions at all.
It is our responsibility to get active and find a way to put this act behind us and get new legislation enacted. The Students for Reproductive Justice are already working toward getting the act overturned, and they’re not the only ones. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) has introduced the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act in an effort to make discounted drugs available again. The hope is to be able to present the act to the House by the end of the year, but until then, birth control prices are going to stay steep, so keep it safe. And don’t forget, if you’re looking for that cheaper alternative, you can get two condoms for 25 cents at the condom co-op, so take advantage of what the university has to offer until new legislation is passed.
Until then all we can ask is that if Congress is going to keep screwing us, they might as well give us birth control.