Following pressure from student groups, Health Services at Columbia announced Tuesday that it would reduce the cost of the NuvaRing and other birth control methods for students. The announcement comes two months after a resolution drafted by a coalition of campus groups urged Columbia to alleviate the rising cost of birth control.
The price hike is a ramification of the U.S. Congress’ Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, part of which cut funding to university health clinics that was used to subsidize birth control. As a result, prices shot up from $10 to $60 a month for students.
In a press release circulated by Heather Tsonopoulos, director of marketing and communications for Columbia’s Student Auxiliary Services, she said that following Health Services’ February meeting with the coalition—which included the Columbia University College Democrats, Students for Choice, Take Back the Night, the American Civil Liberties Union at Columbia, and members of the four undergraduate student councils—it became clear “that this issue is one of personal and wide-spread importance for students.”
This concern prompted Primary Care Medical Services, as part of Health Services, to craft a solution that would address student concerns without doing financial damage to the services provided by the campus health center. “We have seized this opportunity and expanded the benefit to make generic prescriptions more affordable for every student who needs them,” the press release read.
The cost of the NuvaRing—a contraceptive vaginal ring—will be reduced from $40 to $20 starting this summer, though the exact date has yet to be announced. This price reduction will be available to all students, regardless of their insurance plans. According to the press release, the NuvaRing is a new and popular technology without a generic equivalent, making it an “important contraception to subsidize in order to offer a complete breadth of affordable choices to everyone.” The NuvaRing discount will only be available to students who order the birth control through Primary Care Medical Services and have it filled at Town Drug at 501 West 113th.
The Health Services plan will also lower the cost of co-payments for students on the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan taking Tier One prescriptions—including birth control options like Apri and Sprintec and other generic drugs. Students on the CSMIP will see their co-payments drop from $10 to $5 starting Sept. 1, 2008.
This announcement comes during Sexual Awareness Month, a month marked by the Take Back the Night rally, which this year expanded to include both men and women.
Members of the CU Dems and Take Back the Night did not return requests for comment.