Hey, get your minds out of the gutter people.
Ok, fine…(sigh) Guess what I did before that.
I officially registered for my fall classes at California State University Northridge. I have two honest to goddess, real journalism classes, an anthropology class on women’s roles in ancient to modern societies and a class on comparative art studies. Can you tell I’m putting off the science and math requirements again? (ah-hem) Next semester. I promise.
While it was exciting to finally register for classes at the big kid’s school, the thrill was tempered by the constantly running calculator in my head. How much of this will my student loans cover? How much are the books going to cost? How much is the parking pass going to be for the semester? College is an expensive endeavor at any age, and I would say, a bit more precarious when it’s just little ole’ you paying the bills. I’ve long since passed the time where my parents will be helping out with this sort of thing.
One of the things I have been looking forward to as a student on a state campus, is access to the student health facilities. As a registered college kid, I can get lower cost health care on campus. As far as I can tell, this includes nifty things like eye exams, prescriptions, minor doctor’s visits and the like. I even heard something about massage appointments. I will definitely be looking into that! I was also under the impression that young women could get low cost, discreetly handled birth control pills through the health center should they want to keep the information that they're sexually active to themselves…or at least, not broadcast it to their parents. Apparently, I was mistaken.
Back in 2005, President Bush pushed through Congress and signed a complex budget bill called the Deficit Reduction Act into law. The goal of this nifty bit o’ legislation was to reduce spending on federal programs by $39 billion. Most of this money , of course, is coming from subsidized student loans and Medicaid. One of the effects of this bit of accounting acrobatics was to create a disincentive for drug companies to offer school discounts. The result is that birth control pills, which were once available to young women on campus for about $15 per month, have sky-rocketed to upwards of $50 per month. When you’re trying to pay for $150 text books and eat a decent meal every now and again that adds up.
The Wall Street Journal Online ran an article about this on July 25th. They reported that many students are having to switch to a generic pill (where available) or tell their parents and try to get it covered in their family health plan. Neither of these are terrific options. Once your body is used to a certain dose of hormones, it’s not a great idea to start fiddling around with it by taking a different pill that may have higher levers of hormones. There is also the issue of remembering to take the thing. Young women who were on the Nuva Ring or patch may forget to take their pill if they have had to switch. You have to get into the habit of taking them. Forget once or twice and it’s enough to cause an unwanted pregnancy.
I won’t even go into the issues with having to tell your father you need your birth control pills to be covered on his insurance. Not a conversation I would have wanted to have at the age of 18 with my dad. Ugh.
“Susan Maly, a 22-year-old student at the University of Iowa, says she struggled
with switching pills recently. When she went to her college health center to get
a refill on her Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo prescription a few months ago, she was
distressed to find out that it had gone up to $54 from about $18. Starting this
month, she has switched to a cheaper generic pill that has higher levels of
estrogen than the Lo brand.
"That was an issue for me," says Ms. Maly, but she says she will see how things work out for a couple of months. Initially, she says she felt some heartburn side effects from the new pill, but that has since gone away. She finds the dramatic price increase "unfair" to women who have come to rely on birth control, and feel comfortable with the brand they are on.
"This is the one thing that many females on campus are getting from student health," says Ms. Maly. "It felt like we were a target."
I think I would feel the same way – targeted. Let’s face it; I don’t think my college boyfriend would have offered to go halvsies with me on my birth control pill. The guys can pick up their free condoms, and they’re all set. What do they need to worry about higher pill prices for anyway?
Then there is this little monetary issue for the schools:
“College health centers also say the change threatens to lessen the quality of
service they can provide, since the price increases have eaten into the profits
that they make. Pamela Houle, administrative director for the health
center at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., says the health center
now subsidizes each NuvaRing by about $4. "Previously, we were making $17 a
ring." That may mean fewer educational resources and materials down
the line, she says.”
Oh well, I’m sure they could save a lot of money if they just stopped offering all STD testing, counseling, birth control and condom programs and just taught “abstinence only” on campus. After all, that’s what the Bush administration advocates for high school students, people up to age 29 and government subsidized programs to fight AIDS in Africa, so it must be what works the best.