Birth Control is Expensive

Money is a taboo subject, but so is sex and birth control. Why do people seem to think that it’s okay to ask you when you plan on having children, but they shy up when asked about their sex lives or how they are preventing themselves from getting pregnant? That boggles my mind.

My college health insurance plan was great – it covered birth control with zero out-of-pocket cost to the point that I didn’t even know how much it cost out in the Real World. I was pretty shocked to find out the sticker cost after the supply I got from my school finally ran out.

The particular pill that my doctor prescribed me back at school was now a $35 co-pay on my HMO plan or sort of at-negotiated-cost on my CDHP.

My health insurance plan has also partnered with a mail-order pharmacy. This allowed me to buy 3 months worth of birth control pills at a cost of only two months’ co-pays ($35*2 = $70 instead of $35*3=$105). This seemed great, but the mail-order pharmacy was a huge hassle and I had to pay $3 for shipping, so the real savings was only $32 instead of $35. Despite the major hassles, that wasn’t so bad of a deal while I was on the HMO plan. At this point (early 2011), the negotiated cost of my pills was about $240 for a 3 month supply from the mail-order pharmacy.

After only one retrieval of my pills while on the HMO plan, I continued to use the mail-order pharmacy for the pills after the switch to the CDHP. The first set with the CDHP was covered by my employer’s half of the deductible and I paid out-of-pocket for the second and third sets, while the “negotiated” prices were slowly rising.

The fourth set was where this became fun, as it required a renewal. The mail-order pharmacy did not handle the renewal well AT ALL. Finally after several phone calls with both the health insurance company, the doctor’s office, and the mail-order pharmacy (I think I counted about 14!), I had the brilliant idea to call the closest pharmacy to my office. At this point, the negotiated cost from the mail-order pharmacy was $260 for a 3-month supply. The local pharmacy could only give me one month’s supply at a time, but its cash cost was actually about $1/month cheaper than the mail-order pharmacy’s cost for a 3-month supply including $3 for shipping. I was prepared to pay an extra $5/month to not have to deal with the hassle of the mail-order pharmacy, so I was pretty happy to find out that I would save some money by switching to a local pharmacy. It’s a little bit out of my way, but it’s under a 30 minute walk from my office, which is pretty easy to do.

The next few months until my plan year is up are nice – since I’ve already reached my deductible, I only have to pay $9/month for birth control. I’m even more looking forward to August when Obama’s legislation to require health insurance companies to not charge a co-pay, co-insurance, or a deductible for birth control – then I won’t pay anything for it out-of-pocket at all.

Readers, have you had problems with how expensive birth control is or getting it from your insurance/pharmacy?

19 thoughts on “Birth Control is Expensive

  1. Our insurance rates went crazy this year. My copay is $45 and a specialist is $65 and the OB/GYN is considered a specialist. Stupid. Anyway the birth control I was originally put on was great, then I put in for a refill and they wanted $178/mo. I can’t do that. We also have a mail in prescription plan (I HATE it) and after numerous weeks (3!) of back and forths I finally got a generic prescription for $100/3 month supply. Not bad, but I hate this one and miss the old one. I use BC for many reasons other than preventing pregnancy.

    • I hate my mail in prescription plan too! I’m paying for it to not use them anymore, but it’s so worth the hassle. The local pharmacy will auto refill my prescription and text me when it’s ready to be picked up – so easy.

      Agreed – I use BC for far more reasons than just preventing pregnancy. I don’t think that men realize how debilitating migraines can be and the various other things that birth control helps with. I’m single, not having sex regularly, and still pay for birth control. I just wish it wasn’t so darn expensive. I can’t believe that your pharmacy tried to charge you $178/month!! that’s insane.

      • Our mail in prescription company was ridiculous. My husband mailed in his prescription via overnight with signature confirmation. Despite having proof of delivery, they “never got it” so the doctor had to contact them. Five weeks after the prescriptions were delivered (and signed for!) we finally received them. Thankfully we can now have them scripts filled at Kroger or CVS, before it was mandatory to do mail only.

        I wish more people would understand the effects of birth control better. Migraines are my #1 reason for being on it. I need to switch again, kind of dreading the cost of it. I wish it was as prevalent as antibiotics and would come down to $4/mo!

  2. I was on the pill for years for acne so I definitely know that the side effects can be crucial! For that, it seemed that I really needed to be on a name-brand pill, which was $30/month on my parents’ insurance. Now that I’m actually using it for contraception and no longer acne, I’ve switched to a generic. I get a 10-week supply for $30 with our health insurance.

    I’m not sure how I feel philosophically about the pill being covered completely by insurance, but I’ll be happy for the small break in the payments. It won’t make a huge difference in our budget, though.

    • $30 for a 10-week supply isn’t bad at all!

      I’m looking forward to the break in my budget – that’ll basically cut out all of my health expenses beyond the monthly premiums.

  3. Wow! My insurance covers a lot, I suppose — I only paid $14 per month for a generic that I loved. Before this job’s insurance, I was shelling out $10 per month, and before that I got it at Planned Parenthood for $10 a month as well (but I was a poor college student at the time, so I think it was a cheaper rate for that reason). In any case, $178 per month would make me re-think the added perks!

    • If I was on my employer’s HMO plan and on a generic, it would cost me about $10 per month. But with deductibles, it gets more complicated… Right now, I’m paying either $8-9 or $80-90 per month.

    • Wow, $10-20 per month is a lot for Canada! That’s crazy.

      The IUD thing scares me. I’m going to stick with this way until it doesn’t work anymore :P

      Condoms aren’t more expensive if you’re not using it for actual birth control ;)

  4. Ugh, I hate how expensive BC is. I was on the pill for 10 years, but we’ve gone the Natural Family Planning route for a bit over a year. So freeing to not have to pay for pills, remember to take them, and not worry about hormones in your body! I’m lucky though and my body is easy to track, so it works well for us (i.e. no accidents!). I TOTALLY recommend to everyone in a completely non-annoying way because it has changed my life SO much for the better. LOVE IT. The only downside is just having to avoid, uh, the mattress mambo for about 4-5 days during that “special time”. ;) TMI, sorry.

    • Andddddd I just read your comment above about how your on the pill for reasons other than preventing a little baby. :) Whoops. Totally ignore my comment.

      • No worries! :) It is kind of nice for that too, but if cost and not getting pregnant were my primary concerns, I would just use condoms. I stay on the pill for its various other awesome side effects despite the cost.

    • Haha, no worries on the TMI! I really don’t believe in TMI anyway :)

      I think that way sounds a bit too complicated for me. I travel, play sports, and work overtime a lot, which really screws with my cycle. The pill helps a lot with that. I would so end up pregnant with a natural method :P

  5. Up until the age of 22, it was free for me to go to Family Planning for my pill (the prescription itself is $3 for six months) and smears. Now I have to pay $22 for each appointment as well, but so is life. FP also offers ridiculously cheap deals on condoms – something like $3 for six boxes, if I remember correctly.

    I love, love, love the pill. I originally went on it to control my ridiculous periods, and I think it helped my skin as well.

    The boy has suggested I try the injection, but I’m not sure how much that costs and what the effects of that might be.

    • $3 for six boxes of condoms? That’s amazing!

      I’m really not interested in switching my system when it works, even if it would be cheaper. Then what if that doesn’t work? I could end up with no system that works and back to terrible periods and migraines, especially with how stressful my job and hours are. Pills also scare me a lot less than an injection… I also have zero problems with remembering to take a tiny pill every night.

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