Birth control price jumps could be risky

During the past few months, female students may have noticed a hike in the price of birth control on campuses nationwide – in some cases, double and triple the original price.

In January, the Deficit Reductions Act of 2005 went into effect. The act changed reimbursement rules for the Medicare and Medicaid programs, making it impossible for drug companies to offer all drugs – including birth control – to college campuses at deeply discounted prices, as they had been doing for years.

Of course, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services made a list of institutions that would be exempt from the price hikes, but college campuses didn’t make the cut. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the American College Health Association petitioned the center to include colleges on the list, but the request was denied. The center responded that its exemption list, which included mostly low-income family planning facilities, was “sufficiently inclusive.”

Why is this a big deal?

As it is, many college women struggle to make enough money to pay the rent, tuition and other bills. Typically, students barely even have enough money to spend on discounted birth control – but for something so important, women nationwide have made it a priority to save their pennies in order to protect their bodies.

With no real income and plenty of other bills to pay, however, increasing the price of birth control will make it for difficult for women to afford contraceptives. In the end, some may have no choice but to skip out on purchasing it. When it comes down to groceries versus the pill, survival instincts tell us we need food more than we need birth control. Same goes for paying the utilities and footing our tuition bills.

But making contraceptives readily available – and affordable – is also imperative. Why? Because increasing prices are likely to make women quit taking birth control altogether, which could result in more unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Critics will advocate abstinence, saying college students shouldn’t be having sex anyway, but preaching isn’t a sound solution to the problem. College students are going to continue to have sex, and telling us to stop isn’t going to keep us from doing it. It’s time naysayers faced that fact.

Others will accuse us of being too indulgent. They’ll tell us we should nix our cable service and pay for our Yasmin with that money.

They’ll accuse us of being quintessential college party girls and tell us to save our beer bucks to pay for our NuvaRings. They’ll tell us to give up text messaging, that new pair of jeans, our car payments. “Grow up,” they might say to us.

But we’re trying to grow up; we’re trying to be responsible. That’s why we’re using birth control in the first place, right? Taking that option away from us isn’t going to make us adults any more quickly – it’s just going to put us at a greater and more immediate risk of having children of our own.

We’re trying to be responsible. It’d be nice if the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services would let us.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.