Monday, July 25, 2011

Why No-Cost Birth Control is for Me

As a women in her young twenties and recently married, several major changes have occurred during the past year of my life. Before we got married, my husband and I lived 6 hours away (he was attending doctoral school in the Twin Cities, while I was finishing my bachelors at the University of South Dakota. After undergrad, I was determined to pursue a master’s in Gender and Women’s studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

After our wedding in September of 2010, I didn’t realize how much paperwork was necessary for simply changing my status from single to married (and to change states, as I now attend school in Minnesota). Paperwork for joint bank accounts, paperwork for changing financial aid, paperwork for tax returns and W4 forms. Why can’t it just be like Facebook – change your relationship status, everyone congratulates and comment within seconds, and it’s a done deal – nice and simple. But never did I think I was going to run into trouble when it came time to get birth control.

I contacted student health services at MSU, Mankato. My appointment went great and my doctor was fantastic. But when it came time to picking up my pills, “that’ll be $240, please.” What?! Are you kidding me? I’m in graduate school; I can barely pay my rent, let along fork over that kind of money for three months’ worth of birth control. Turns out, my insurance plan doesn’t cover any form of contraceptive. Great…

I decided to pay for just the one month, and $80 later I was bound and determined to find another route for receiving birth control. It was then I decided to contact Planned Parenthood. I also decided to do a little research on my insurance plan and was disgusted when I read that male hormonal stimulates (i.e. Viagra) is covered, yet any form of contraception was not. Will someone please explain how that works?  The insurance company will pay for my husband’s sexual satisfaction, yet won’t do anything to prevent his sperm from fertilizing my eggs? Just another example of how society feels regarding women having sex – if we are going to do so, it best be for procreation. Long strong short, my visit to Planned Parenthood went wonderfully and the cost was donation based (which I think is completely understandable, and I gladly donated to the cause).

According to the NARAL Pro-Choice America Birth Control Cost Calculator, me (a 22 year old, no kids, and on the vaginal ring) could save $11,868 in my lifetime if the Health and Human Services Department includes birth control as preventative medicine under healthcare reform. That's a big chunk of change! I am proud to say I am a feminist and that I am a supporter the pro-choice movement and organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Who knows, maybe I’d be pregnant and without a master’s degree without reproductive rights’ organizations like them.

- Brittany, Intern, NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota

For more information on insurance coverage of birth control, check out: