What difference does a co-pay make? Plenty!
I’m 57. It’s been a long time since I’ve used contraception. When I did use it, back in the last century, pills and other kinds of contraceptives were all very affordable. If you picked up your pills at the drugs store and paid out-of-pocket – which is what you had to do back then since no insurance plans covered contraceptives – you might pay $5/month for a cycle of pills. And if you were young or poor or both, it wasn’t hard to find a clinic that offered pills for $1/month. Even though the minimum wage was only $3.35, pretty much everyone could afford to use contraception when they wanted.
What’s it like now? In a word – bad. Most contraceptives are so expensive that I honestly don’t know a single person who tries to pay the full cost of a prescription contraceptive out-of-pocket. It’s true that women with insurance are now much more likely to have coverage for contraceptives than back in the old days. But sadly, as coverage has expanded, co-payments have gone up. Way up.
My 21-year old daughter and her friends are facing co-payments that are so high, there’s almost no way these young adults can earn enough to pay for contraception … assuming that they’re also paying for rent, food, transportation and all the other costs faced by young adults. Yes, it’s true that the minimum wage has more than doubled since the last time I was a regular contraceptive user. But what’s happened to costs? Have they doubled, too? Hardly! My daughter’s friends are being charged $40/month co-payments when they buy their pills at the drugstore. Even student health centers, traditionally a go-to place for low-cost prescriptions, are charging $20/month co-payments. And don’t even get me started about the cost of IUDs! Would you believe $800 for the device itself, not including the practitioner’s fee?
I’m angry at pharmaceutical companies for charging such outrageous prices. And as a leader of a consumer advocacy group, I can promise you that we’ll keep putting pressure on these companies. But in the meantime, we need to rally round the administration’s new rules that require insurance companies to cover contraception without any additional fees like co-payments or deductibles. It’s the best chance we have, right now, to make sure that costly co-pays don’t stand between a woman and the contraception she needs.
Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.