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?