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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Birth control remains free at Dartmouth

Despite rising costs of birth control on college campuses due to the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Dartmouth still provides free birth control.
Despite rising costs of birth control on college campuses due to the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Dartmouth still provides free birth control.

"We are here as a service to students," said Jeff Licht, staff pharmacist at Dick's House.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, supposedly aimed at countering Medicaid abuses, took away incentives for drug manufacturers to offer colleges large discounts on certain drugs, including birth control.

Before the act was passed, such discounts did not calculate against drug companies' formulae for rebates they paid to states in exchange for participation in Medicaid. Additionally, while drug companies did not profit enormously from selling discounted birth control to college campuses, they saw students as a potential future clientele. The act, by forcing drug companies that give discounts on drugs to colleges to pay more for Medicaid participation, has caused birth control prices to double or triple on campuses nationwide.

According to Licht, Dartmouth has been able to exercise effective cost control by stocking only one generic brand of birth control throughout the pharmacy.

"In the world of pharmaceuticals, when you get down to generic drugs, you come across many different manufacturers," Licht said. "We've made an arrangement with our wholesaler -- the middleman -- that if we exclusively buy from a particular manufacturer we can reduce the cost because the manufacturer can sell more."

Licht said that the decision to stock one generic equivalent of each form of birth control has been met with acceptance by most students and that the plan is not intended to limit birth control options.

"We say, 'This is what we have right now. We have an FDA-approved generic form for this type of birth control. If this is not acceptable to you, you are welcome to take your prescription to CVS,'" Licht said. "But 95 percent of people choose to stay because Dartmouth has a good insurance plan."

In contrast to the drop in demand for increasingly costly birth control on many other campuses, Licht said that the demand for birth control at Dartmouth has gone up since the Act was passed. He credited the increase to the fact that the DSGHP covers birth control with zero co-payment -- meaning that the College picks up the entire cost.

"I've been told that we are filling more prescriptions than we have ever filled before," Licht said.

Students covered by private health plans may have more to worry about, Licht said. The prices these students must pay for birth control depend entirely on agreements with their respective private providers.

Any delay in the effects of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 can be attributed to the fact that most universities buy drugs in bulk. According to Kari Jo Grant, Coordinator of Health Education Programs at Dartmouth College Health Services, the stock collected before the Act has only started to run out in the last year or past couple of months for most colleges.

"I don't know what the future holds, but I think the future is in what we are doing right now," Licht said. "We like to think here and at Dartmouth that we are progressive and forward-thinking."