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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Birth control costs spike

    The cost of most forms of oral contraceptive birth control at Campus Health Service has increased as a byproduct of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, a federal law that went into effect in January.

    The law prohibits manufacturers from supplying nominally priced contraceptives to health centers.

    As a result, students will end up paying approximately twice as much for birth control as they did last year, according to Campus Health Service data.

    Under the Reduction Act, manufacturers must now sell contraceptives to colleges at retail prices, with no price reduction.

    At Campus Health, the cost of the Nuva Ring has jumped from $25.00 to $40.50, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen LO is expected to increase from $20 to $40 later this year, said Kim Birmingham, Campus Health’s chief pharmacist.

    Though Campus Health stocked up on inexpensive contraceptives to delay the price increase, supplies are expected to run out in November, Birmingham said.

    Lee Ann Hamilton, Campus Health educator, said she fears women may forgo oral contraceptives altogether.

    “”Hope is not a good method (of preventing pregnancy),”” Hamilton said. “”Plan B is available, but it’s only 75-89 percent effective.””

    Plan B is an over-the-counter medicine that prevents pregnancy if taken within three days of having unprotected sex, Hamilton said. In four days since classes began this semester, there have been about 14 requests for the contraceptive.

    “”Plan B is for emergencies, and we do not advocate using it as a regular method of birth control,”” Hamilton said. “”Getting a prescription for birth control ends up being cheaper than (regular usage) of Plan B.””

    Thirty-nine percent of undergraduate women use oral contraceptives, according to the American College Health Association.

    At Campus Health, about 1,000 women have prescriptions for birth control, Birmingham said.

    The price increase is already having an effect on students, said Alberta Hopkins, a UA triage nurse.

    “”Nuva was very popular, but many people need to change based on price,”” she said. “”We don’t want price to inhibit a student who wants to be on it.””

    Alex Hodges, a Spanish junior, said the price of her birth control hasn’t increased but that she would get it elsewhere if it did.

    “”I stocked up before I left school in the spring,”” Hodges said.

    Because Hodges uses Aviane, a generic brand for Alesse, the price is not expected to increase.

    Despite this, paying for contraception is still a financial concern, Hodges said.

    “”I pay out of pocket and factor it into my budget,”” she said. “”If it was over $20, I would have to go to a pharmacy off campus. I can’t afford more than $20.””

    Some women like Marla Harris, a graduate of UA’s accelerated nursing program, have avoided the dilemma altogether.

    “”With my insurance, birth control is $25 but only $15 in Mexico,”” Harris said.

    Campus Health officials are lobbying with the American College Health Association to try to regain price reductions in birth control, Hamilton said, but the effort has not yet produced results.

    “”I think it’s ridiculous,”” Harris said. “”Birth control is already so expensive.””

    There are other options to obtain birth control if cost is an issue, Hamilton said. Since the Reduction Act mainly applies to oral contraceptives, other forms of protection like diaphragms have stayed low-cost, Hamilton said.

    “”There are lots of options,”” Hamilton said. “”Condoms are pretty darn effective when used properly.””

    Hamilton said the Health Center’s costs are in line with Planned Parenthood and there are other options given through the Pima County Health Department.

    “”This will be harder on women because women are the ones using oral contraceptives, but this is a federal issue that we don’t have any control over,”” she said.

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