Multiple news outlets have been reporting on the sudden increase in cost for birth control prescriptions at health centers on college campuses.
Health experts say the price bump for college students was inadvertent — a byproduct of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, a federal law that went into effect in January. The law alters how drug makers calculate Medicaid-related rebates paid to states, but it ultimately made it expensive for companies to offer schools such deep discounts on birth control. As a result, brand name prescription prices for campus clinics rose from about the $3 to $10 range per month to the $30 to $50 range. Organon, the maker of Cyclessa and Desogen birth control pills and the NuvaRing, says the company is not happy about having to increase prices for colleges. But Nick Hart, Organon’s executive director of contraception, says they were forced to make “a business decision” after the law went into effect.
This combined with steep and unexplained price increases from Ortho-McNeil for contraception supplied to Title X family planning clinics, and we’re likely to find a great number of sexually active women choosing not to use oral contraceptive – by far one of the easiest, most-effective techniques.
About 2/3 of college students are sexually active and about a little under half of college-aged women use oral contraception. We know that contraception has been effective in reducing teen pregnancy rates and that financial barriers to contraception are a cause of unintended pregnancies. Why colleges would be dumped from the approved list of which agencies can receive discounted medications is perplexing. Aren’t the democrats interested in safe, legal and rare? Isn’t this a no-brainer?
Adequate funding for family planning is critical to prevent unwanted pregnancies among the populations that are most susceptible. A Democratic congress should prioritize this issue so that unintended pregnancies are not an unintended side-effect of budget cuts.