Times are tough, and birth control is expensive. Still, unintended pregnancy would be a catastrophe for most women in this economy. A recent study by The Guttmacher Institute found that one in four women were having difficulty paying for gynecologist visits and more frightening, skimping on birth control – cutting pills in half, skipping a few days here and there, and for some women, just going without.
With free family planning clinics experiencing their heaviest volume of patients ever, and more and more people living without health insurance, it’s no wonder that birth control became a “luxury.”
Though there are several non-hormonal birth control options that exist, many women prefer to be on the Pill. Personally, I couldn’t live without it. Fortunately, my insurance provider offers a great program that delivers it to me by mail in a 3 month supply for only $60 (discounted from $175).
For those not so lucky, these tips will help reduce costs and make access to birth control much easier.
Go Generic – Though there is much controversy regarding the effectiveness of generic birth control, the FDA assures us that they are biologically identical to their branded counterparts. These drugs cut costs at least by half, and in many instances by more. A word of caution, though. The preservatives used in generic birth control differ from those that are used in the branded pill, so check with your doctor to ensure that you have no sensitivities. Some women report issues with generic birth control, and others have no side effects, just like with the branded pills.
Hit Up Your Gyno – One of the only benefits of pharmaceutical sales representatives stalking down doctors to peddle their wares is the sample pack. My doctor provided me with an initial 3-month sample of Seasonique, and I was able (after a teeny tiny white lie) to finagle another sample. $60 saved! Sometimes, when starting a new pill, doctors will give you a few months supply to ensure that you don’t waste money on a prescription that doesn’t agree with you. My doctor was also able to give me over $100 in coupons for my pill. Most doctors will be willing to work with you on samples if you explain your financial situation. They know that the Pill is expensive, understand the recession, and have no incentive to sell more drugs.
Check Out Your Insurance Provider – Although most insurance (over 2/3 of large group plans!) doesn’t cover hormonal contraceptives, 13 states require plans to cover birth control. BUT, if you’re not sure, or are paying full price – check it out! Most plans, my own included, don’t completely cover the Pill, but definitely do a lot to mitigate costs. If hormonal birth control is not covered, many plans will cover IUD and surgical sterilization if that is the path you wish to take. If your insurance provider doesn’t cover any contraception at all, your final option may just be…
PLANNED PARENTHOOD! - I always am willing to plug Planned Parenthood, but this is perhaps their best work. No organization does more to provide women with access to birth control. The Pills Now, Pay Later program assists women by allowing them to pay for their pills monthly, rather than all up front.
Amy is a social media strategist living in Dallas, Texas. She likes music, trashy TV, and ladybiz. tweet: @aemccarthy