Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hey! I'm sexually active!

Here's a problem I never faced in college: apparently, the price of birth control on campus is skyrocketing.

For years, drug companies sold birth-control pills and other contraceptives to university health services at a big discount. This has served as an entree to young consumers for the drug companies, and a profit center for the schools, which sell them to students at a moderate markup. Students pay perhaps $15 a month for contraceptives that otherwise can retail for $50 or more.

But colleges and universities say the drug companies have stopped offering the discounts, and are now charging the schools much more. The change has an unlikely origin: the Deficit Reduction Act signed by President Bush last year. The legislation aimed to pare $39 billion in spending on federal programs, from subsidized student loans to Medicaid. And among the changes was one that, through an arcane set of circumstances, created a disincentive for drug makers to offer school discounts.

The contraceptive prices offered to schools are now included in a complex calculation that determines certain Medicaid-related rebates that drug makers must pay to states. In this calculation, deep discount prices would have the effect of increasing drug makers' payments.

Colleges and universities say the change is having a significant impact on their health centers and the students they serve. Prices have begun skyrocketing for many popular brands of birth control. Health centers are having to reconfigure their offerings and write new prescriptions. And college students are making some tough choices, such as switching to cheaper generic brands or forgoing their privacy in order to claim their pills on their parents' insurance.

"Forgoing their privacy": that phrase caught my attention. I'm assuming that it means that a co-ed thinks that it would be a violation of her privacy if her parents were to discover that she was sexually active. I would challenge that assumption. After all, the student knows her parents are having sex -- where's their right to privacy? Heck, not only my parents, but my in-laws, and my siblings, and all my friends and acquaintances and even people I see on the street know I'm sexually active, and that I've had sex at least THREE times. The government knows.

Now, I'm all for people seeking privacy when they're having sex. (It's not something I want to watch other people doing.) But I don't think there's some right to privacy regarding whether one is known to be sexually active, because sex is an act that has social ramifications. It creates a bond between the actors (whether acknowledged or not). It's the cheapest, most efficient way for societies to obtain new citizens, so in a sense I find it rather odd that the government should have been subsidizing this in the first place. If anyone should be subsidizing birth control for female college students, it's the guys who benefit from it.

College Guy: Hey, you wanna hook up Friday night?
College Girl: Sure. That'll be $50 upfront.
College Guy: WTF? That's prostitution!
College Girl: No, that's economics.

Perhaps the objection is that students forfeit their medical privacy if they use their parents' insurance to obtain birth control. Guess what? If someone else is paying for your medical care, they have a right to know what they're paying for. It's basic. You get as much privacy as you pay for. Simply being a college student doesn't entitle to you no-strings-attached, child-free, privacy-protected sex. In fact, contrary to the unwritten assumptions of the WSJ article, being a college student doesn't entitle you to have sex, period.

But for all the college girls out there who can't afford birth control, here's my tried and true method for avoiding pregnancy in college: Keep your pants on.*

*Like all birth control methods, this only works if you use it every time.

8 comments:

Big Tex said...

I found this take rather amusing:

Not only hadn't I realized that there was effectively a federal subsidy for drug companies to sell birth control to colleges, I hadn't even realized that colleges actually had found a way to profit from student fornication. Nice work if you can get it.

Tony said...

Perhaps the objection is that students forfeit their medical privacy if they use their parents' insurance to obtain birth control. Guess what? If someone else is paying for your medical care, they have a right to know what they're paying for. It's basic. You get as much privacy as you pay for. Simply being a college student doesn't entitle to you no-strings-attached, child-free, privacy-protected sex. In fact, contrary to the unwritten assumptions of the WSJ article, being a college student doesn't entitle you to have sex, period.

Interesting segue from this. We went to the college funding seminar for our oldest daughter. The lady was talking about all the options and then she got to the part that I enjoyed the most.

Seminar Lady: "But your child is considered an adult, and is protected by federal privacy statutes. If you call the school and ask for her grades, they can't give them to you".

Me: (Raising my hand)

Seminar Lady: "Yes?"

Me: "Can we receive the grades if my daughter signs the form authorizing it?"

Seminar Lady: (Somewhat uncomfortably) "Yes."

Me: "So if I tie... say... spending money to the existence of such a form, I could have access to her records?"

Seminar Lady: "Yes. But she can go to the office and revoke the authorization."

Me: "Yes, and I can revoke her spending money."

Seminar Lady: "That's blackmail!"

Me: (Smiling) "Precisely."

Jennifer F. said...

Great. Post.

You guys are on fire this week!

CMinor said...

I am so glad I did not have a mouth full of coffee while reading this.

Literacy-chic said...

And how exactly is it maintaining privacy if the student presents her male instructor (my husband) with a receipt for Plan B from the university health center a couple of days after Valentine's Day as an excuse for a missed class?

M.Z. Forrest said...

Just as an FYI, a parent actually doesn't have a right to now for what their insurance is paying. Typically states - the feds may have rules themselves, but like most things the states are more strict, so that is what we were trained upon - have rules specifically related to abortion and reproductive services that mandate privacy for those services. I was shocked to learn it, but a CSR told me that they could not say what service was provided without the permission of the patient. One case in particular was a daughter who had received an abortion and the most the CSR could say was 'treatment for an outpatient procedure.' The CSR could not be more specific.

Jennifer F. said...

And how exactly is it maintaining privacy if the student presents her male instructor (my husband) with a receipt for Plan B from the university health center a couple of days after Valentine's Day as an excuse for a missed class?

Literary-chic - please tell me this did not actually happen. That would be just too...amazing.

Nina said...

OTOH, a female student may have more traumatizing reasons for obtaining Plan B than you're assuming.

Should the female daughter of strict, fundamentalist Islamic parents be forced to inform her strict, fundamentalist Islamic father that she's been raped when the consequences for doing so might be pretty horrific for her?

The reality is that the privacy laws you don't like come hand-in-hand with the ones you benefit from.

That's the bargain you make by agreeing to live in this country.

Don't like it, move to Afghanistan, where I hear the Taliban is on the rise once again.

They'll let you know if your daughter is out of line...

Right after they beat her and gang rape her...