by Samantha Stark
In 2013, publicly funded family planning centers in Minnesota helped avert 21,400 unintended pregnancies, which would likely have resulted in 10,600 unexpected births and 7,300 abortions, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute.
From 2008 – 2013, unintentional pregnancies at MSUM dropped 26.4 percent among the percentage of pregnant students alone, according to a survey conducted by the Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota.
Since Hendrix Health Clinic and Counseling Center started providing the Minnesota Family Planning Program roughly two years ago, staff has noticed “a positive response since MSUM students (have received) access to it on campus.”
Hendrix nurse Sheryl Olson said students have been utilizing both the reproductive health examination and pharmaceutical services the clinic has to offer.
Established by the Minnesota legislature in 1978, MFPP is a federal grant program providing low-income, high-risk individuals (ages 15 – 50) pre-pregnancy family planning services. The program was established for people who otherwise would have difficulty accessing services due to barriers like poverty and lack of insurance or transportation. The program also assists people who are at high risk of poor pregnancy outcomes. However, MFPP is not available for people who are already pregnant.
“If you add up the cost of an annual appointment, about $200, and monthly birth control costs, which is averagely $25 per month, it would cost almost $500 a year,” Hendrix pharmacist Andrea Stengle-Corcoran said. “So there alone, it can save a student $500 annually if those services aren’t covered under their insurance.”
The health care program covers family planning services and supplies family-planning office visits and education, birth control, sterilizations, diagnoses and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases detected during office visits. However, STI immunizations are not covered under MFPP.
“Hendrix still offers those benefits to students, but those who don’t qualify for MFPP will just have to pay for the services if they aren’t covered by insurance,” she said, adding that some health insurances cover services provided by MFPP.
Though the program is only available for Minnesota residents, Stengle-Corcoran said a majority of students should be eligible for the program’s benefits, since students who live on campus are considered Minnesota residents if their campus address is used on the application.
“One of the biggest benefits of applicants using the program is confidentiality,” Stengle-Corcoran said, since applicants may apply without the consent of anyone else, even if they are covered under other insurance plans.
“Parents aren’t contacted regarding STI or contraception, as that is confidential,” Olson said, adding the application doesn’t ask for parental information.
While the program only covers health care for one year, Stengle-Corcoran said applicants can reapply each year.
“There is a (45-day) waiting period for acceptance by (the Minnesota Department of Human Services), but Hendrix provides short-term coverage during this time,” she said. “Students can get the benefits and set up a family-planning appointment right away while they wait for acceptance.”
A student must bring his or her student ID, proof of income (pay stubs from last 30 days), proof of citizenship (birth certificate, passport or immigration documents) and drivers license to a first appointment.
Students can apply to MFPP online or at Hendrix Pharmacy by completing the MFPP application and bringing it to future appointments. Olson takes family-planning appointments Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at Hendrix.
For more information on the program, visit the Minnesota Department of Human Services website or contact Hendrix.