How to get hormonal birth control online without a doctor’s visit

Most insurance under the Affordable Care Act cover the cost of birth control. Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

Whether you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, get clear skin, or relieve period cramps, you’ve decided that you need prescription birth control.

You will need a prescription to get hormonal birth control, including the pill, IUDs, and other methods. Most people get a prescription by visiting a doctor or going to a local health organisation like Planned Parenthood, but new options are emerging to get birth control directly from a pharmacist or even online.

Here’s how to go about getting the birth control method that’s right for you.

You don’t need insurance

“Depending on where you live, one may be able to access birth control through an online prescriber,” says Kate Grindlay Kelly,director of the Free the Pill project, which aims to make birth control over the counter in the US. Some state laws don’t allow you to get birth control online so you should check the company’s website to see if it is available in your area. You can find a list of online providers here.

Most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act cover the cost of birth control and doctor’s visits related to birth control. If your insurance does not cover your doctor visit, the cost can range from $US35-$US250. If you are buying birth control online, you can typically get it for free with insurance but without insurance, the prices can range widely.

How to choose the best birth control method for you

“Health care providers consider a number of factors when deciding what type of birth control to prescribe, including a patient’s medical history, blood pressure, and family history,” says Kelly.

If convenience is an important factor for you, you can usually pick up birth control at any local pharmacy or have it mailed to you. But beware of “refusal laws” in certain states. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are 6 states where pharmacists can refuse to give contraceptives without legal ramifications. They are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Mississippi
  • South Dakota

If cost is important, some methods like IUDs have a high starting price but save money over time. Whereas you can purchase birth control pills for a relatively low payment if you don’t have health insurance. Otherwise, certain types of birth control are free with health insurance.

If you don’t have insurance, birth control costs vary widely

Cost estimates from the National Women’s Health Network show that without insurance, there is a wide range of costs for different types of birth control:

  • Birth control pills run between $US20 and $US50 per month.
  • NuvaRing costs around $US100 per month.
  • The Depo shot is $US60 and is given every 3 months.
  • Birth control implants are over $US800 and last for 3 years.
  • IUDs come with a range of costs. Mirena and Paragard, for example, cost over $US1,000 and last 5 and 10 years, respectively. Whereas Liletta, similar to Mirena, is less expensive.

If you don’t have health insurance and your income is low, you can apply for Medicaid to help cover the costs of birth control.

If you don’t qualify for Medicaid but still struggle with birth control costs, you can visit Planned Parenthood or a similar organisation. You do not need to have insurance to use their services and they generally charge prices based on your income level.

Kelly also recommends a new program from Power to Decide called BCBenefits. This program covers not only the cost of birth control, but other related costs as well, such as taking the day off of work to go to the doctor, transportation, and childcare.

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