The Good News
It’s true. Walmart is selling birth control pills for $9 a pack for a month supply and $8 a pack for a 90 day supply.
That’s the good news, and for women without insurance, its great news. For women who have insurance and a $10 co-pay, it’s not a big savings, and if you can mail away for 3 packs with that co-pay, I’d say “No thanks” to Walmart. But Walmart’s birth control pills are a great deal for women without insurance.
And a huge turn-around from the early days when Walmart refused to carry the morning-after pill, a policy they changed last year. Ah, the power of the almighty profit-dollar. Occasionally, it can be used for good…
The Not Necessarily Bad News
Here’s the not so good, but then again, not necessarily bad news. It’s only 2 pills – Sprintec and Tri-Sprintec, generic versions of Ortho Cyclen and Ortho Tricyclen. Not necessarily my first choice of pills, but not necessarily bad ones, either. For most women, these are fine – in fact, more than fine – pills.
Anecdotally, I seem to get a few more complaints of moodiness on these pills, but it’s not a common side effect. In clinical trials, moodiness was more common among users of Ortho Tri Cyclen than in placebo users, but overall occurred in less than 10% of users. If I had no insurance, and had no problems with mood on pills before, generic Ortho-tricyclen or Ortho Cyclen would be my first choice pill, for sure.
If you have acne, Wal-Mart’s offering a great pill. Ortho-Cyclen was the first pill to receive FDA-approval for acne treatment, primarily because Ortho was the first company to do the clinical trials that proved what we all knew for years – namely, most birth control pills are good for acne. Now, other pill manufacturers have gotten wise. Both Estrastep and Yaz are also FDA-approved for acne treatment.
The Ugly News
The ugly news about Walmart’s birth control pills are the higher generic price tag. Walmart offers all it’s other generics for $4. Why the difference for birth control pills? Wal-Mart claims that the reason for the higher price is that they needed it to be profitable.
I’m not buying it.
Birth control pills are no more expensive than other drugs. In fact, some of the drugs being offered in Wal-Mart’s $4 generic plan are traditionally very expensive – Lamictal and Diflucan to name just two.
No, I figure that Walmart is banking that young women are more likely than Seniors to swallow the $5 difference in price, and also more likely to spend a pretty penny in their stores. And since there is no lobbying group with the power of the AARP behind young women, why not charge them more?
It’s just another example of price discrimination against women. If the dry cleaners and clothing manufacturers can get away with charging women twice the price as they charge men for the same products and services, why shouldn’t Walmart do the same thing?
If I seem particularly sensitive about this subject, it’s because this week, my husband accidentally took one of my “blouses” in for dry cleaning along with his “shirts”, and lo and behold they cleaned the thing for only $1.99 instead of my usual price of $5.99! Lesson learned – send hubby in with your dry cleaning.
Now if it were only that easy for birth control…
You may also want to read –