Female Finance: Birth Control Costs
If you are a nitpicker, you would notice that no health care costs are included in my budget. I have $70 pretax taken out of each check for my Health Savings Account (HSA) and my employer contributes about $30. I’d be shocked if I spend it all, and I pay for all health care costs with that money, which I sort of ignore in my budget. But today, I want to address my most expensive health care cost: preventing my body from spontaneously creating a new life.
I’ve never liked the idea of taking a pill, particularly a finicky one that insists I take it at the same time every day if I want it to really work. I know I can be spacey about that kind of thing whenever my routine is adjusted, and the NuvaRing sounded so nice an convenient at once a month. I signed up and have used it off and on for years. I don’t remember the original cost, but I got them for a reasonable price through the student pharmacy at my college, in the $20 range. Last year, I was paying around $42/mo (pre-tax money) for the NuvaRing. This past week, i noticed it had increased to $52. Really, I’ve had enough! I looked online to try to score a better deal, but no dice, even ordering from Canada (which may or may not be legit).
Part of this is my own choice of health plans, but let’s just leave that aside for now. I really don’t understand why birth control isn’t covered as a preventative drug. It prevents pregnancy, an arguably expensive condition (that results in an even more expensive child)! Probably because it would cost the insurance companies too much money to cover something that many women are almost required to take on a daily basis (or risk children they are not ready for).
What about condoms? They are cheap, right? Well, not cheap, but I’ll just admit that we have never spent $50/mo on condoms! Condoms are less effective, and T is hyper concerned about pregnancy. Using condoms as our sole form of protection really doesn’t appeal to me either. I have a nephew that resulted from that method!
The NuvaRing is becoming an unjustifiable expense in my budget and condoms do not provide enough protection (at least to ease my mind). What about the obvious answer, the Pill? Despite the annoyance of having to take it every day and be really diligent, I may end up switching to this less desirable (to me) method because of cost. But what is the cost? I don’t know yet. I estimate I can get at least some brand for $25/mo or so. Even with my income, planned parenthood will give them to me for about that. Walmart has a few brands for $4 or $9 (!) but that deal is not applicable for residents of some states, including mine. Besides, the walmarts around here are extra sketchy (so I’ve heard).
What about those student discounts? In the fall I will be getting a student ID (legitimately, as a part-time grad student), so can’t I get those discounts again? Nope! Turns out that trend is over. I can imagine this is impacting many young females on college campuses around the country.
One final option I’m going to discuss with my doctor is an IUD. It is non-hormonal and you put it in once and you are good for 10 years. You can take it out if you change your mind. There are some undesirable side effects and reasons they don’t recommend them for childless people, but this is not a women’s health blog, so you can find those elsewhere. I once heard the cost of insertion is $300, but I suspect it will be higher. (On a separate issue, I’ve found it really difficult to begin to select a doctor. I can get a list of doctors, but how do I know if I’ll like them? And do I need an OB-GYN or just a regular MD?) I know for sure that I don’t plan on having kids until T is done with grad school (at the earliest!) so that means at least 3 more years. It is something to consider, and I like the non-hormonal part. I was surprised that just 1.3% of women in the U.S. use it, while it is the most popular method in the world. I really like this idea, but I have a feeling that my doctor will talk me out of it, or the up front cost will be high.
To sum it up, here are the options I’ve come up with so far, all in pre-tax dollars:
- Condoms: Maybe $150/yr, but not enough protection
- NuvaRing: $600/yr
- The Pill: Estimated $300/yr
- IUD: ??? One time (per 10 yrs) cost of $300+
- Abstinence: $0, but perhaps my happiness and/or my boyfriend
Gosh we women get ripped off. . . (Although any male paying $50/mo for condoms has my sympathy too.) Also, why aren’t feminine hygiene products eligible for my HSA spending but band-aids are? The sort of do the same thing. Ok, not at all, but still! I consider them a necessary health product but I guess they aren’t.
I missing any options regarding birth control expenses? What do you pay per a month?