Health Center brings back reduced-price birth control

In a recent change of Health Center policy, students are again able to acquire birth control pills on campus through the Health Center at a low cost. Although past legislation made it problematic for the Health Center to provide birth control pills to students, the Health Center has been working to again make oral contraceptives available to students.

Prior to May 2007, the Health Center had been able to provide oral contraceptives to students directly from the manufacturer. However, the Federal Deficit Reduction Act, which went into effect in January 2007, mandated financial penalties for pharmaceutical companies who gave special pricing to college health centers. As a result, students were required to go off-campus to pharmacies to get oral contraceptives, which posed problems due to health insurance coverage discrepancies.

The legislation is still in effect, but Ruth Harrison, director of the Health Center, explained that with some effort, the Health Center has been able to overcome the problems the legislation introduced. “I have finally been able to finalize a contract with a company whose pricing makes it possible for us to have oral contraceptives available again,” she said.

Students at the College who are seeking a prescription for birth control have two options, according to Harrison, who said that the Center can now supply contraceptives Levora and Trinessa at a cost of 10 dollars per pack.

“A prescription is needed in order to obtain oral contraceptives,” Harrison said. “The prescription can be written during a gynecological appointment at the Health Center.”

Harrison also informed students that they have the ability to switch to birth control provided by the Health Center if they have up-to-date physical exams. “If a student has had a recent gynecological appointment and a pap smear and would like to change to one of the two oral contraceptives that we now have, she should call the Health Center and ask to speak with one of the nurses,” she said. Harrison went on to explain that Health Center staff will evaluate which of the two oral contraceptive options is appropriate for the individual.

Peer Health, a student-run health issues support group, is excited about the reintroduction of inexpensive birth control. The directors of Peer Health issued the following response statement: “The Health Center’s renewed capability to provide birth control to its students is, we are sure, a comfort to many members of the student population. The confidentiality and proximity of the Health Center make it easier and more comfortable for students to make choices that tend to all their health-related needs and concerns.”

“I think it’s good that birth control is available at the Health Center again, especially at a reduced price,” said Hannah Matheny ’12, a Peer Health volunteer. “It’s easier to get now for anyone who needs it.”

Additional reporting by Laura Corona and Hanna Saltzman, news editors.