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No-cost contraceptives for U students

A student-lead initiative has led to the opening of the new Campus Contraceptive Care Clinic.

My fellow U students, you now have the option to receive all forms of birth control with no out-of-pocket cost or insurance required at the Campus Contraceptive Care Clinic!

The Campus Contraceptive Care Clinic is a new program located within the Obstetrics & Gynecology at U of U Health, arriving in response to research about the specific barriers college-aged students face accessing sexual and reproductive health care. Many of these barriers including out-of-pocket cost, health insurance status and proximity to care have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest research shows as many as 1 in 3 people report having pandemic-related delays or cancellation of their sexual and reproductive health care in the past year.

During my career at the U, I have studied young adulthood to be a critical point of development for lifelong sexual and reproductive health behaviors. We know that many students, mainly ages 18-24, fall into a coverage gap where they are unable to access their desired methods due to outrageous out-of-pocket costs, a hardship that has only been exacerbated during the pandemic. We also know that cost and stigma are two barriers that get in the way of students using the birth control method that works best for them.

We also believe that sexual wellness should be accessible to all students. By removing cost barriers from the contraceptive decision-making process, we hope to increase students’ knowledge of their bodies, the contraceptive methods available to them and improve their own sexual health by seeking professional care when needed.

These contraceptive services are only available for currently enrolled students with a valid UCard. Members of the faculty, staff and partners of enrolled students are not eligible.

First, set a contraceptive counseling appointment

Students with a valid UCard should contact the OB/GYN Clinic at U of U Health and schedule a telehealth appointment where they will receive contraceptive counseling with one of our providers. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U of U Health has been able to expand our telehealth services to offer hassle-free appointments that work around your schedule and can be done from wherever students have Wi-Fi.

Schedule an appointment at 801-213-1398.

The contraceptive counseling appointment will help to identify the contraceptive needs of each student. There are many options for contraception including but not limited to long-acting reversible contraceptives (hormonal and non-hormonal), prescription methods, fertility-based awareness methods and barrier methods. All methods will be discussed to find the best fit for an individual and their reproductive health goals.

Next steps

If a prescription method is desired, it will be sent to the student’s preferred on-campus pharmacy to be picked up at no cost. Those pharmacy locations are University of Utah Hospital and the Madsen Health Center. Medications may also be requested by mail from the Midvalley Specialty Pharmacy.

Long-acting methods such as a hormonal or a copper intrauterine device or implant may be the best fit for some students. At an average cost of $1,200 per implanted device, we recognize that cost has often been a difficult and prohibitive barrier with these methods, but now these options are now free for U students.

After the contraceptive counseling appointment, students can then schedule an in-clinic appointment at the OB/GYN Clinic for insertion of a device. Additionally, this program supports the removal of existing implanted devices and a new device may be implanted at no cost.

How is this program made possible? 

The physicians and advanced practice clinicians in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology are participating in telehealth and in-person appointments to support reproductive care among the student population and ongoing “One U” initiatives. Devices and medications are donated by pharmaceutical partners through a partnership with Utah’s non-profit Family Planning Elevated. Family Planning Elevated partners with federally qualified health centers, county health departments and rural clinics to increase access to contraceptive care and methods without out-of-pocket costs for uninsured clients.

We are also extremely grateful for community donations from U Giving Day 2020 and look forward to making this a long-lasting and sustainable program going into the future.

And I am grateful and indebted to the support of my fellow student researchers, Catherine Castillou, Gillian Stucki, Jennifer Salazar, Sarah Hyatt, Alyssa Brown and Carleigh Ashnault for making this program possible and to our faculty and staff partners who’ve supported us during the journey to make the Campus Contraceptive Care Clinic a reality.

Additional programs for students

As an undergrad, I also assisted with the launch of a student-designed Safe(r) Sex program in the Center for Student Wellness in the spring of 2020. The Pleasure Pack Delivery Service is based on the premise that all students (and individuals) should have easy access to barrier methods, as well as sexual and reproductive health information so that they can make informed choices in their relationships.

The program is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is planned to resume as vaccinations become more readily available and the number of positive cases begins to decline. In the meantime, students can access barrier methods (internal and external condoms, oral dams and personal lubricants) from the information desk in the Union, CSW (outside of ESLC 2100) and at the Feed U Food Pantry. A full list of pick-up locations can be found on the Center for Student Wellness website.

About the Campus Contraceptive Initiative

The Campus Contraceptive Initiative (CCI) was the precursor to this Campus Contraceptive Clinic. Founded in 2018 as a student-led group supported by faculty and staff from numerous departments across main campus and U of U Health. The CCI has facilitated educational events, conducted a campus-wide contraceptive needs assessment with 2,800 responses and earned the trust and positive regard among U students, faculty and staff. In January 2020, partnering with the Center for Student Wellness, CCI launched the Pleasure Pack Delivery Service which provides no-cost condoms, oral dams and lubricants to U students.

Campus Contraceptive Care Clinic goals:

  1. Improve knowledge of sexual and reproductive health information and contraceptive methods
  2. Improve health insurance enrollment and utilization for contraceptive care among students
  3. Provide no-cost contraceptive services for uninsured and underinsured students and their partners