Having a kid isn’t cheap. And now that provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 have kicked in, ensuring that you won’t have a kid won’t be cheap, either.
Under the DRA, college students who receive prescription hormone contraceptives from public university health programs will now see a significant increase in the cost of birth control.
And we’re not talking a few dollars here: In some cases, the price of one month of birth control more than tripled when the ball dropped on New Year’s.
Surprised? So were university health officials, who had very little warning that the change in nominal pricing for hormone contraceptives was going into effect Jan. 1. Now many health-care providers are worried this increase will cause a financial strain that could leave some students making sacrifices just to obtain birth control. This change has also gone almost unnoticed by students as well, who will be shocked the next time they head to their university pharmacies.
With the ever-rising costs of higher education, the last thing college students need is another out-of-pocket expense. With books, food, rent and the like, female students across the nation could now be spending hundreds of dollars more per year for contraceptives.
The increase in price is only part of what makes this aspect of the reduction act seem so mindless, and the fact that many students will be covered by their parents’ insurance is beside the point. This problem of the higher cost of contraceptives for college students is only an indicator of larger issues.
Access to contraceptives should not be a luxury only some can afford. It should not be a symptom of the gap between the haves and have-nots in today’s society. And unwanted pregnancies cost taxpayers far more than a program that would provide contraceptives at a reduced price.
The provisions of the DRA are yet another example of how the bureaucracy in Congress runs rampant. The intention of this part of the bill was to spread the benefits of reduced prescription costs onto others; however, it places an additional burden on a demographic already struggling to make ends meet.
What’s more, this plan will merely shift the cost of contraceptives to another federal program, as most college students will be eligible to receive a family-planning waiver to help cover the cost of birth control. So really, the savings seen through this aspect of the DRA will just mean a greater strain on the funds and resources allocated for the waiver program in the long run.
Fortunately, the American College Health Association is not taking this matter lying down. In a letter to other members of the association, ACHA President Dorothy Kozlowski vowed to make the issue a priority when the group visits Washington in February. Kozlowski also said ACHA will look into other ways to help universities reduce the costs of contraceptives.
Whether or not this part of DRA was motivated by religion and a misguided means to discourage premarital sex is up to speculation. Of course, what religious groups across the nation choose to ignore is that actions like upping the price of contraceptives could ultimately lead to an increase in the number of abortions.
Regardless, students need to remain vigilant by contacting their Congressional representatives and letting elected officials know what they think of the ramifications of the Deficit Reduction Act.
One thing is certain: This women’s health issue cannot be ignored.