birth control prices soar for college students

it's appalling that the price of birth control impacts a young woman's decision to buy them or not.

The High Price of Campus Birth Control

back to school
Birth control pills

Paula Tran, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, relies on her school's health center for affordable birth control pills. Even though she doesn't have insurance, she bought a year supply from the clinic for only $7 per pack last fall. But when she goes back for more this September, she'll be hit with a bill five times that amount, something she says will definitely affect her spending. "It will cut into the kinds of notebooks I buy to the kind of groceries I get to the cable package that I order," she says.

For decades college campus health centers have been a resource for budget-conscious female students seeking birth control. Because of agreements with pharmaceutical companies, most campus clinics were able to distribute brand name prescription contraceptives, from pills to the patch to a monthly vaginal device like NuvaRing, for no more than a couple of bucks.

That all ended earlier this year. 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.