How BCBenefits Benefited Me
Like billions of other people, the pandemic has changed my life in profound and unexpected ways—some of them more unexpected than others. For me, that included access to birth control.
My college was one of the first to cancel classes for the entire semester in the spring of 2020. Like countless other students, I relocated back home, which was hours away by car and across state lines. My access to health care dramatically changed as a consequence.
I live in a state without Medicaid expansion and became uninsured after I turned 18. I went to the college’s health clinic while I was on campus as a student, and it was there I received primary care, including birth control. When I moved home during the onset of the pandemic, I learned that I was not able to have my prescriptions sent to me via mail from the clinic’s pharmacy. I was also receiving my medications at a reduced cost through the clinic and could not afford my method of birth control without the discount.
I was at a loss for what to do. I live in a rural area with poor access to health care; you can’t even give birth in my hometown, which forces expectant parents to drive 45+ minutes to the next closest hospital. While there are two health departments in my county that provide family planning to those without insurance, they’re on entirely separate ends of the county and it was difficult to take the time off work and classes to go to an in-person appointment. I was not in a great place physically or financially to become pregnant. Luckily, I came across a post shared by a friend promoting a program called BCBenefits.
BCBenefits is an initiative that helps folks access free prescription birth control or reimburses them for their birth control visit. You can also take advantage of a gas gift card or rideshare to get to your appointment, perfect for people like me who don’t live close to a provider. It was very easy for me to apply and be approved; I simply sent in a copy of my college financial aid letter and was approved based on my Pell grant. While I could have chosen to set up an appointment with a provider in-person and be reimbursed, I ultimately went for prescription birth control pills through an app-based partner so that it could be mailed to my house.
I’m truly so grateful for BCBenefits, both for the reproductive freedom it gave back to me and for its ease of use. I’ve yet to find any program like it that helps folks access free birth control entirely from their own home—especially one that is so accommodating for college students. Since I was unemployed the next year when it came time to renew, the option to use my financial aid letter in lieu of paystubs was a huge advantage. In the last two years I have recommended the program to many other students who may or may not be working at the time and thus have no other financial documents to provide.
I used BCBenefits for two years until I obtained health insurance with my new employer—Power to Decide! Everyone deserves the right to make the best decisions for themselves regarding their own health and bodies, but barriers such as living in a rural area or being uninsured can restrict access to contraceptive care. BCBenefits is a resource that helps to fill these gaps in care, improving health care outcomes and, in my case, quality of life.
Kati Hurd attended Berea College where she studied Communication and Sociology. As a Digital Programs Fellow at Power to Decide, she enjoys implementing her experience in and love for reproductive rights, health, and justice to help others access abortion and contraceptive care.