University Health Services has recently been required to increase the price of most of their oral contraceptives for students.

According to a question on the National College Health Assessment survey, which asks, “If you are sexually active, what type of birth control did you use the last time you had intercourse?” 35 percent of both national and UR female undergraduates use oral contraceptives.

This does not account for the entire undergraduate population on birth control.

“This is slightly different from asking what percent of UR women are on an oral contraceptive because some women who are not sexually active take them to control irregular periods, dysmenorrheal or endometriosis,” Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of University Health Services Ralph Manchester said.

Last year, UHS was able to offer oral contraceptives, also called birth control, for $10 per cycle, with one cycle constituting 28 days of pills. UHS had a small amount of birth control pills available last year at the $10 price, yet as the year progressed, the supply gradually diminished.

The price increase this year is due to a Deficit Reduction Act that was signed on Jan. 1. The pills that UHS had after the bill was signed were not subject to the price increase – it only applied to the pills they would purchase in the future. As such, UHS was able to keep the price low until their supply ran out.

“Some of the older contraceptives went off patent and became generic, so there was no longer as much of a markup by the drug companies… [there was] no more incentive to sell them at a discounted price,” Manchester said.

UHS has not reported any change in the purchasing of the birth control since the price increase.

The American College Health Association began to try to lower the prices of the birth control beginning in February. However, the final announcement by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on July 8 ruled that there would be in fact no “special provisions for lower prices for college health services,” according to Manchester.

This year, there is still one pill available at $10 per cycle, but UHS is unsure as to how long that supply of pills will last. The other pills are $20 to $25 per cycle.

According to Manchester, the price of birth control pills at most pharmacies outside the University range anywhere from $30 to $55 per cycle.

If undergraduates wish to get a prescription for birth control through UHS, they must make an appointment with either their Primary Care Provider or one of the nurse practitioners. The student’s medical history will be reviewed and a physical exam must be performed if deemed necessary.

The prescription the student receives can then be filled either at UHS or at a pharmacy.

Halusic is a member of the class of 2010.

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