Free condoms and other health care at Columbia?

Originally Published: January 9, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: October 25, 2013
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My wife and I are newcomers to Columbia. We wonder where to get some medicines and condoms to prevent pregnancy. Are they free?

—Hot time in the Ivies

Dear Hot time in the Ivies,

Welcome to Columbia! 

To begin, yes, free condoms and other safer sex supplies are available on campus in various locations, such as at Alice!, Medical Services, and many other places. Check out the interactive healthy campus map and click on the safer sex icon to get a visual display of locations on the Morningside Campus. Many Resident Advisors (RAs) also stock their floors with safer sex materials.

In addition to free safer sex supplies (female and male condoms, lube, dental dams, and more), Columbia offers a wide range of health-related services to students. Columbia Health on the Morningside Campus and Student Health Services on the CUMC Campus provide extensive on-campus services, supported by the Health Fee that all full-time students are required to pay. By paying this fee (each semester), students are able to access most campus-based health services and programs at no additional charge (the exceptions being for travel medicine appointments and some vaccinations). Columbia also requires all full-time students to carry adequate health insurance to cover any off-campus services (emergencies, prescriptions, visits to specialist providers, surgery, etc.). The Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan is designed specifically for students living in New York to provide local resources for health care and to help cover the cost of off-campus services.

Columbia students can make appointments at Medical Services (Morningside) or Student Health Services (CUMC) to receive prescriptions for birth control and any other health needs. Prior to meeting with a health care provider, some students prefer to talk about the many contraceptive options available and choose the one(s) that best match their goals, medical history, budget, and style. These contraception option discussions are facilitated by the professional staff in Alice! Health Promotion. Students can call 212-854-5453 to schedule a conversation with an Alice! team member to discuss options, with both female and male staff members available (if you have a preference).

Prescription contraception, such as the birth control pill, is not dispensed on campus. However, Columbia students may receive a prescription from Medical Services or Student Health Services (depending on your campus) and fill it at any number of local pharmacies. With changes to health insurance laws and requirements, a number of contraception options are available to students covered by health insurance with no co-pay (basically no out of pocket expense for the prescription). To see a provider for a prescription call 212-854-7426 or log in to Open Communicator to make an appointment on the Morningside Campus. Students at the CUMC campus can make an appointment with Student Health Services by calling 212-305-3400. 

In addition, you can find plenty of additional information about contraception and safer sex in Alice's Sexual & Reproductive Health archive. Again, welcome to Columbia and we wish you success in your studies.