Since the January implementation of minor Medicaid reforms, originally passed by Congress in 2005, contraceptive prices for college students across the country have tripled or quadrupled in price. The legislation eliminates government subsidies for birth control prescriptions written to college students. Because this development acutely impacts this low-income and sexually active demographic, the potential negative consequences of making birth control less accessible far outweigh any potential benefits of saved government spending. In light of this, Congress needs to prioritize government spending to better reflect the importance of maintaining college students’ access to affordable birth control drugs.
With the closing of Oxford’s Planned Parenthood branch, Miami University students have been forced to rely more heavily on the Student Health Services Center for birth control. The Student Health Services Center did purchase contraceptives in bulk prior to this semester, but as current supplies run out, Miami students can expect to see prices increase.
As many college students’ tight budgets do not permit the purchase of drugs at the tune of roughly $30 per month, there is the risk that those who are most impacted will decide to forego taking birth control. As students seek cost-efficient alternatives, they may either abandon birth control altogether or switch to less effective measures. An increase in the use of cheaper contraceptives creates a range of concerns as they may be less effective. This can potentially lead to higher numbers of unwanted pregnancies, as students continue to engage in more risky sexual behavior.
Additionally, women use birth control medications for health reasons other than contraception, so this move impacts other aspects of women’s health. Family and privacy concerns leave these students with no choice but to go to the health center and receive the drugs they need for important health reasons, not necessarily for sexual relations.
Congress is demonstrating its ignorance through this move, as legislators seem unaware of college students’ needs and priorities in everyday life. With no current member of Congress being a part of this college-aged generation, many simply do not seem to completely understand the prevalence of birth control today and its importance to the health care of many college students.