Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 Birth Control Price Check

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Just over two years ago I wrote a post about the increase in price for contraceptives following the implementation of the healthcare reform law which, at the time, was still not final. A high school classmate of mine (Hi, M!) alerted me to a segment on Rachel Maddow last night discussing the availability and cost of contraceptives based on Republican vs. Democratic proposals, and I thought it was time to do another set of price checks.

In the segment, Rachel claims that if a Democrat is president, your birth control will be covered by your insurance or, if you don't have insurance, you can go to a subsidized clinic and get your contraceptives for cheap or free. If a Republican were president, she says, your insurance may not cover it, there won't be any subsidized clinics, and you may have to pay out of pocket. What Rachel doesn't mention is that individual states, like Texas, can still do exactly what our state did and go after Planned Parenthood locally. Our wildly successful Women's Health Program has been defunded, which will leave thousands of poor women without access to health services or birth control.

The perverse way that prescription drugs are priced is the opposite of many healthcare services, which are often priced lower for those patients paying cash ("self-pay") and higher for those using insurance, with the assumption being that the amount of money the healthcare provider ultimately receives is the same for both patients. However, with rx drugs, the list price is what you pay if you don't have an insurance company negotiating with the manufacturer to reduce costs for a large patient pool. The large patient pool of uninsured women have no leverage, and the prices they will pay have gone up staggeringly just since 2009.

Below are the out of pocket prices women are paying now for contraceptives, with the 2009 price in parenthesis and the % increase:

Yasmin: $85.99 ($76.99) -- 12%
Ocella (Yasmin generic): $71.99 ($59.34) -- 21%
Yaz: $92.99 ($85.60) -- 9%
Nuvaring: $86.99 ($77.35) -- 12%
Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo: $94.99 ($67.99) -- 40%
Tri-Lo Sprintec (OTCLo generic): No longer available ($55.99)
Plan B One-Step: $47.99 ($47.99)

The price of every method, other than Plan B One-Step, has gone up significantly. Perhaps this explains the buzz I've been hearing about Depo-Provera, the 3-month progestin only shot, which seemed to have gone out of popular use after 2000. One syringe costs just $100.78 on, by far the cheapest of the hormonal methods.

The Planned Parenthood clinics in Austin are still offering free birth control under the WHP, trying to use up the rest of their funds. There are income limits, but click here to see if you qualify. Better get it now before it's gone.

Previously on How to Have Sex in Texas: the $2.99 birth control app, iCycleBeads.


  1. Generic birth control pills run a fraction of that cost. Maybe they aren't as heavily promoted as the name-brand pills listed above, but they get the job done. Just like some of us have to drink Budweiser instead of a fancy imported microbrew because that's what we can afford, some women may just have to use a no-name generic birth control pill because that's what fits into their budget. Quit your whining...

    1. Here's a relevant article on the topic entitled "Getting on Birth Control Pills Without Getting Off Your Budget":

      "The cost of the pill is about $15-$25 or so a month.".

      If you can afford a pizza and a six-pack of beer per month, you can afford a month's supply of generic birth control pills.

    2. Thanks for the link to that article. I agree, women need all the help they can get to find affordable options, especially if they don't have insurance. That's why I included two generic pills in the list above. There are dozens of generic pills and the prices vary significantly, but the prices are all going up. The days of $15-20 birth control [without insurance] are over--the article you link to is dated 1999.

    3. I also think prescription drugs in general vary from pharmacy to pharmacy sometimes. Personally, even without insurance, I am still paying $24.99+tax per month for Microgestin Fe. It's monophasic (all the pills are the same dose)--not sure if that has something to do with the still-low price. (Triphasic pills like orthotricyclen give me terrible estrogen withdrawal migraines.)