U insurance to cover birth control devices dispensed outside Boynton

The upcoming policy change will not affect coverage of oral contraceptives.

U insurance to cover birth control devices dispensed outside Boynton

Emma Nelson


The University of Minnesota will expand its insurance coverage of contraceptive devices obtained outside of Boynton Health Service  for students enrolled in the Student Health Benefit Plan this fall.

University-insured undergraduates will be able to get contraceptive devices at clinics or pharmacies within the Blue Cross and Blue Shield network instead of just at Boynton. But the change won’t extend to oral contraceptives.

The new policy won’t cover oral contraceptives because of their popularity, said Dave Golden, a Boynton spokesman.

Pharmaceutical prices at Boynton are fixed to keep it affordable for students, so allowing students to obtain pills from out-of-network pharmacies would increase the overall cost of the plan, he said.

Students enrolled in the plan, about 7,000 undergraduates on the Twin Cities campus, filed fewer claims than usual in the past year, allowing additional funding for birth control coverage, said Susann Jackson, the University’s director of Student Health Benefits.

The Student Health Benefit Plan, provided through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, currently covers 80 percent of the cost for contraceptive devices, like an intrauterine device, when it’s administered by a doctor at Boynton and obtained through the Boynton pharmacy. The remaining cost is deducted from the $3,000 allotted by the plan for prescriptions, Jackson said.

The new policy already applied to Academic Health Center students receiving insurance through the University –– about 2,000 on campus –– because it’s less convenient for them to go to Boynton, Golden said.

Pills: the most popular contraceptive

According to Boynton’s 2010 College Student Health Survey, about 43.7 percent of respondents who use contraceptives use birth control pills. About 5 percent use contraceptive devices, like an IUD or an injection. Not all respondents are covered through University insurance.

“It’s very frequently prescribed, and that could just run the cost of the plan out of sight,” he said.

An oral contraceptive at Boynton costs about $12 per month for generic brands and $20 per month for non-generic brands. If the prescription is obtained outside of Boynton, students pay full price.

Some students are unaware of the limitations when they sign up. Junior Kylie Deere said she didn’t know her birth control pills weren’t covered outside of Boynton until she picked up her prescription. Because of the cost, she then switched to a generic version. Preferring to use outside pharmacies, she now pays about $90 per three-month refill.

“It can be kind of a burden having to pay out-of-pocket for it,” she said.

Senior Gina Curci gets the pill through the Boynton pharmacy but says the cost is still difficult on a student budget.

“I don’t have that much money coming in while I’m finishing up my degree,” she said.

Some students simply can’t afford the $950-a-semester cost of University insurance even without purchasing birth control. Freshman Kaitlyn Williams can’t afford the school’s plan and is instead covered by her parents’ insurance, which doesn’t cover birth control.

Williams said she thinks the University should work to make all birth control affordable for all students.

“Students are here to learn,” she said. “They’re not here to start families right now.”