No health care for birth control? Here's how to get it delivered to your doorstep

·6 min read

As the nation adjusts to a new post-Roe v. Wade reality, the options for people looking for reproductive health care are wider and more diverse than they have ever been.

Access to birth control, contraception and reproductive care is no new issue in the U.S. From transportation and time constraints to privacy and insurance issues, there are many reasons why people who menstruate may not have access to reproductive care.

Recently the matter has taken on new urgency.

Incidents of pharmacists denying birth control prescriptions or contraception to customers because of religious beliefs that went viral on social media have also had people worried about in-person interactions at pharmacies.

But taking that care online has made at least part of the process a little easier for people who have access to the internet. Birth control delivery programs have been around since as early as 2016, delivering affordable contraceptive care to people across the country.

More: Can pharmacists deny birth control prescriptions and condom sales? What we know.

According to Power to Decide, a campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancies, there are 19 million people in the U.S. that live in a "contraceptive desert," or cannot access contraception. About 1.2 million of these people live in a county without a single health center that offers a full range of contraception options.

Dr. Raegan McDonald- Mosley is the CEO of Power to Decide. She said contraceptive deserts aren't just in rural areas of the country anymore, because access has now changed in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson.

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"But people are nervous about their reproductive health and well being," she said. "What we know is that peoples' lives, how much they make and whether you have insurance are still largely determining factors about whether or not someone's able to access birth control."

How does birth control delivery work?

Telehealth companies can provide low-cost medical consultation and contraception prescriptions that are delivered to people in all 50 states.

Patients sign up for a free consultation with insurance, or a $15 consultation without, where a medical expert will prescribe the right kind of contraception based off a questionnaire the patient fills out beforehand.

Other online providers include Hers for Women, Twentyeight Health, Lemon Aid Health and Prjkt Ruby.

Favor, formerly known as The Pill Club, can also prescribe emergency contraception and skincare products.

By providing prescriptions for generic brands of contraception, online providers are able to keep the out-of-pocket cost as low as possible.

Stephanie Swartz is the senior director of policy and public affairs at Favor and said location shouldn't inhibit someone from accessing contraception. Online birth control aims to get rid of the far too many hoops that keep people from accessing contraception.

"It shouldn't be up to your zip code or your local pharmacist when it comes to access," she said.

Dr. Casandra Cashman is a family physician and staff telemedicine physician at Nurx, another online contraception delivery program. She said there isn't any medical evidence that a birth control prescription requires a physical examination.

More: Drugmaker seeks FDA approval for over-the-counter access to birth control pill

Nurx asks the patient to send in their most recent blood pressure readings before an online consultation and the physician does the rest.

"This is really a great way to open up access to people who can't be seen in-person by a doctor," she said.

While telemedicine laws limit Nurx to 36 states, it is able to provide a wider range of products like treatment for UTI's, STI testing and HPV screening in discreet packaging.

How much does it cost?

The costs vary by patient and prescription. For Favor, out-of-pocket costs for a consultation are no more than $15 without insurance. Without insurance, prescriptions can also be as low as $7 a month.

Patients with insurance can have their medical consultation and prescription covered if their plan allows it.

Most insurance plans cover birth control prescriptions. However, according to the National Women’s Health Network, birth control pills can cost anywhere between $20 and $50 per one-month pill pack without insurance.

Swartz said because Favor has broad insurance coverage, patients can keep their payments as minimal as possible. In some states, Favor is also able to take Medicaid and Medicare plans.

"We've worked really hard to make sure that the providers that actually see patients and do consultations are licensed in a number of states so that we can get the most coverage possible," Swartz said.

Nurx charges a $15 consultation fee which includes unlimited messaging and contact with a medical team for a year. According to the company website, patients can also request prescription changes or consult the medical physician as much as needed during that year.

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Prescriptions are free for patients with health insurance, depending on the insurance company and insurance plans. For patients who don't have insurance, brands at Nurx start at $15 per month.

Patients can also email the Nurx team if they want pricing for a specific brand or type of birth control.

What if I already have a prescription?

Swartz recommended waiting until there are no more refills on the prescription and then fill out the questionnaire for a medical consultation and a new prescription. But Swartz said Favor is able to fulfill existing prescriptions.

Cashman said sometimes patients lose health insurance, can't get to a doctor in time for a refill or want to find a prescription at a lower cost.

More: 'Why not Plan B?': Here's what you're getting wrong about the emergency birth control

She said patients would still need to fill out the health survey with recent blood pressure readings and tell the medical provider which medicine they were using. The provider can then either diagnose a new prescription that might work better for the patient or approve the one the patient was previously using.

"It's really important to be thorough and accurate (when filling out your health survey)" Cashman said. "We can only help you to the extent of the information that you share with us and so we can serve you the best if we know the most about your health history."

Sara Edwards is a consumer news intern at USA TODAY. You can follow her on Twitter @sedwards380.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What you should know about using birth control delivery Nurx, Favor