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CVS absorbs ‘menstrual tax’ in Utah and addresses period stigma

The health care company is honoring International Day of the Girl by launching the Healthier Happens Together initiative

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A woman placing tampons in her CVS shopping basket.

A woman placing tampons in her CVS shopping basket.

CVS Health

In honor of “International Day of the Girl,” CVS Health announced a huge initiative that takes systematic steps to advance health equity, according to a press release emailed to the Deseret News.

Women face many challenges when it comes to menstrual health. An estimated 1 in 5 women can’t afford period products, which leads to missing work or school, and nearly 45% of those menstruating are stressed out when thinking about the price of the products, the release said.

The United Nations Population Fund describes period poverty as “the struggle many low-income women and girls face while trying to afford menstrual products.”

It isn’t only an economic issue but a social and political one as well, the U.N. website noted.

CVS takes ‘bold’ stance

In an interview with the Deseret News, Jake White, the vice president of consumer health care, pricing and analytics, and front store merchandising at CVS Health, highlighted the steps the company is taking to address period poverty.

“CVS has a history of taking bold action to address key gaps in health care needs for our consumers,” he said.

The company is reducing the price of its store brand period products by 25%, absorbing the “menstrual tax” — which doesn’t allow feminine hygiene products to be considered as essentials — in 12 states, and taking a stance on the “pink tax” by pricing men’s and women’s products the same.

“Utah is one of the states where we will be absorbing the cost for the customers,” White noted of the menstrual tax. “It’s going to be automatically deducted from the transaction, so the customer doesn’t actually have to worry about it.”

Information on this tax deduction will be printed on receipts and on signs in-store to help bring awareness to the issue, White added.

The company said that it will also partner with advocacy organizations to eliminate the menstrual tax in 26 states altogether, per the release.

A women’s health clinic at CVS

Nearly half of menstruating women in low-income households reported stretching out the use of their products, while a quarter of women in rural areas said they resorted to homemade period products, according to a CVS Health-The Harris Poll Survey.

CVS is approaching the issues holistically. Apart from affordability, the health care company is also new services through MinuteClinic that will offer menstrual, contraception and menopause consultations.

A virtual version of the clinic will also be available seven days a week to address general medical needs like heart health, thyroid monitoring, birth control and behavioral health assessments.

This is a leap forward in destigmatizing periods and letting go of the shame that many women may feel when menstruating.

To announce the Healthier Happens Together initiate, CVS hosted a panel inviting key voices such as Asia and Laila Brown, the co-founders of nonprofit 601 for Period Parity, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, the founder of The Money Coach, Dr. Joanne Armstrong, vice president and chief medical officer for women’s health and genomics at CVS, and White.