Guelph-Humber News

Published on November 8, 2016 | by Carmen Wong     Photography by Caitlin Wood

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Guelph-Humber health plan should cover 100 per cent of birth control: petition

A student petition at the University of Guelph-Humber is demanding birth control costs to be fully covered by student health insurance.

Mikki Decker, the author of the petition being shared on Change.org, said that there is an ethical dilemma when the health plan coverage of contraceptives only provides women up to three months of birth control. She wants full coverage.

Decker said, “today is 2016, we are in a space where we have advanced so far in women’s rights that we shouldn’t be fighting or trying to figure out why we are only being given birth control for three months.”

We Speak Student is the health insurance provider for both domestic and international Guelph-Humber students. On the We Speak Student website, there are three health plans from which students can choose to best fit their needs: a balanced plan, an enhanced dental plan and an enhanced drug plan.

All students are automatically enrolled in the balanced plan that insures prescription drugs up to $2,000. Even though birth control pills are prescribed as medication, there is only a maximum coverage for those drugs of $60 through the balanced plan.

Kylie Brooks, a Humber student who commented on the petition website said it is not right that coverage for birth control is limited for students given the reality of the college experience in which many students will have sex.

Haley Girardeau, an early childhood education student at Guelph-Humber uses the pill for health related reasons.

“I’m on it [birth control] because I have ovarian cysts in my right ovary. I was told that birth control would help get rid of them and since then, I have been able to avoid surgery to remove that,” said Girardeau.

Girardeau was under the impression that the balanced health plan would insure her medically prescribed birth control but it does not. Without insurance, she’s paying $40 a month out of her own pocket totaling $480 a year.

“Her health is being diminished and put in danger because what happens when you don’t have money to buy birth control?” said Decker.

Chintal Shah, a nurse at Toronto Public Health’s Scarborough Sexual Health Clinic said that in many cases the use of birth control could have nothing to do with pregnancy prevention and is about health quality. Women take oral contraceptives for acne, regulating menstrual cycles and lessening PMS symptoms.

Ahmed Tahir, the president of Ignite discussed the request with the service coordinator. After that conversation, Tahir came away with the impression that better coverage of birth control would most likely raise the costs of health plans.

“In order to add coverage, we will try to remove and replace things that are less utilized within the plans to hopefully keep the premiums to a low,” Tahir said.

Tahir said that to pass the petition started by Decker, the process would require three-steps. The petition first needs to be approved by a fee protocol committee comprised of Humber and Guelph-Humber representatives who mandate new and increased fees according to Humber.ca. Then the petition must be agreed to by the Board of Directors at Ignite and then be approved by Humber’s Board of Governors.

Tahir said he is looking into better coverage of contraceptives in the school’s health plans but any chance can take up to two years.

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