You’ve seen the doctor, you have the prescription, but you don’t have the money. it is an all too common scenario that many will unfortunately experience at some point. now multiply that worry and uncertainty by 12 if you need to refill a birth control prescription every month.
Sixty-two percent of women currently use some form of birth control, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). However, without insurance, three-quarters of those women would not be able to afford birth control if the price exceeds $20 per month, as the Guttmacher Institute found. one in seven cannot afford birth control at any price. “Affordable birth control,” for many women, really has to mean “free birth control.”
Fortunately, that is possible. the birth control options women need are available even without insurance and at a fraction of the cost, or even for free.
how to get birth control without insurance
Let’s start with the basics. Even without insurance, anyone with a prescription for birth control can buy it at a pharmacy.
That means a trip to the doctor’s office is required. Patients who don’t see a doctor regularly can make an appointment at a family planning, public health, or Title X clinic.
For most birth control methods, a visit to the doctor will be a breeze. very little is required for a doctor to prescribe contraceptives. The doctor will ask a few questions, including the patient’s medical history, and may take some vital signs. testing is not necessary unless the patient has one or more risk factors, such as high blood pressure or a history of smoking.
More complex birth control methods, such as IUDs, diaphragms, or implants, will require additional work, such as a Pap smear, pelvic exam, or contraceptive device insertion. additional controls and an extraction procedure may also be necessary. these procedures will cost more.
But how do you get birth control? it depends on the chosen method.
Over-the-counter birth control methods like condoms, spermicides, and the morning-after pill simply involve a quick trip to the pharmacy. family planning and sti clinics can provide free condoms and spermicides. you can simply go in and request these birth control methods.
Birth control pills and some medical devices, such as a cervical cap, will require a prescription from a pharmacy, although some clinics may provide the medication or device on-site.
More complex long-term birth control methods, such as implants and IUDs, must be inserted by a health professional in a doctor’s office.
how much does birth control cost without insurance?
If you don’t do your homework, the simple answer is “too much.” budgeting for birth control is hard. prices are everywhere. Whether you have insurance or not, getting birth control at an affordable price takes a bit of know-how.
the cost of birth control by type
start by comparing birth control options. each varies in cost, value, effectiveness, and side effects. Both male and female condoms cost $1 or $2, but can only be used once. Birth control pills can cost as little as $8 per month, but usually cost around $20-$30 per month. Long-term birth control methods, such as diaphragms, vaginal rings, IUDs, implants, and hormone injections, can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,500.
doctor visit and physical exam costs
visits to the doctor have an additional cost. expect to pay $20 to $200 for each visit if you don’t have insurance. the cost will depend on where you seek medical services. public health clinics, 340b providers, and title x clinics may charge patients as little as $0 depending on income, but you can generally expect to pay around $20 or $25. a specialist, such as a gynecologist, can cost up to $125 per visit.
costs of tests and procedures
For complex devices, such as IUDs, diaphragms, or implants, you’ll pay more for additional exams and tests. These birth control methods may require additional follow-up visits and a cost-increasing removal procedure.
initial cost of birth control versus long-term value
Some birth control methods, such as male condoms, spermicide, and emergency contraception, can be purchased over the counter without having to pay to see a doctor. But because these are one-time contraceptives, the cost of buying them repeatedly can add up over time. Long-term birth control methods, such as IUDs, diaphragms, and birth control injections, may be more cost-effective over time than short-term methods.
For example, the cheapest form of birth control, male condoms, will cost $1 per use. no doctor visit required. however, this could add up to between $100 and $300 per year. longer-term, more expensive contraceptives can add up to the same annual cost or less. a two-year diaphragm can cost $200, including doctor’s visits. a 12-year IUD can cost $1,300, including doctor visits. Also, for long-term birth control, both the doctor’s visits and the drug or device are more likely to be provided at low cost or nearly free at a public health clinic for patients who meet income requirements. .
how much does birth control cost with insurance?
people with insurance are in luck. With insurance, birth control costs nothing. that’s how it is. The Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all health insurance plans to cover women’s birth control, including surgery, and not charge a copay for doctor visits or birth control prescribed. Insurance doesn’t have to cover all brands of drugs or devices, but at least one option in each category of birth control is covered, except male condoms.
errin (progestin-only pills)
* based on family planning birth control costs, which may not include the cost of a doctor’s visit or device insertion/removal.
how to get free or discounted birth control
There are nine ways to get discounts or free contraception.
1. individual attention
first, patients with and without insurance can rely on singlecare for all of their prescription medications. these coupons are free, reusable and easy to use. singlecare coupons can reduce the price of prescription contraceptives by up to 80%.
2. go generic
Most birth control methods have generic and brand-name options. Like most medications, brand-name contraceptives can cost more than generic versions. always ask a doctor if he or she can prescribe a generic contraceptive instead of a brand-name one.
3. request a 90-day supply
Buying in bulk can save pharmacy customers a lot of money in the long run. The cost of a 90-day supply of birth control may be higher at checkout, but you’ll save on the cost of multiple copays to fill smaller prescriptions more often.
4. health insurance
Even the cheapest insurance plan brings your out-of-pocket cost of birth control down to $0. which includes the visit to the doctor and the contraceptive medication or the device itself.
Health insurance is an option worth exploring. Depending on your income, the premiums you pay may be partially or fully refunded as a tax credit. Free health insurance with no copay means access to free birth control.
Medicaid health care benefits are available to low-income seniors, the disabled, pregnant women, or families with children under the age of 18. premiums are low or eliminated altogether. Medicaid contraceptive coverage includes free birth control.
6. 340b healthcare organizations
340b Hospitals, clinics, and other safety-net health care providers can purchase discounted drugs, including birth control pills, and dispense those drugs at a “reasonable” price. Depending on your income, these clinics will provide birth control pills, injections, and implants for free or at a discounted price.
7. family planning clinics
Family planning clinics accept Medicaid and most health insurance plans. For patients who have neither, these clinics often offer a birth control discount based on income.
8. community or public health centers
Your community may have nonprofit health clinics, public health centers, or family planning clinics that provide free or discounted reproductive health services. For a nominal fee, usually $25 or less, you can see a doctor, prescribe adequate birth control, and sometimes receive the birth control you need, such as an injection, implant, or intrauterine device.
Clinics that focus on women’s health, sexual health, or STIs (sexually transmitted infections), as well as Title X clinics, are the most trusted places to find free or discounted contraception.
9. patient assistance programs
Finally, many pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and non-profit organizations provide drugs and devices free of charge to uninsured patients in need. some cover the full copay for insured patients. These patient assistance programs generally help patients who are prescribed the more expensive brand-name products. however, if you qualify, patient support on a brand-name product is often a lower-cost or no-cost alternative to low-cost generics.
- contraceptive use in the united states and changes in usage patterns since 1995, cdc
- contraceptives and policies from a gender perspective, perryundem
- examinations and tests necessary before the start of contraceptive methods, cdc
- birth control pills, american pregnancy association
- title x summary of the 2018 family planning annual report, office of population affairs
- birth control benefits, healthcare.gov
- 340b and medicaid: an explanation for family planning providers, the national association for family planning and reproductive health
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