How Much Do Birth Control Pills Cost?

white and blue round medication pill

Cost is one of the biggest barriers to birth control. The good news is that many states and Planned Parenthood health centers offer free or low-cost birth control pills, as well as doctor’s visits related to contraception.

Choosing the right birth control method for you is important for long term pregnancy prevention. Here’s how much each of the most common methods costs, with and without insurance:

Prescriptions

Many people who choose to use a hormonal birth control method, including the pill, patch, ring, or implant, need a doctor or nurse practitioner to prescribe them. These clinicians typically ask about a person’s medical history, do a pelvic exam, and answer any questions. They may also recommend certain pills or discuss alternate ones if there are any issues, like a woman having trouble with the side effects of one type of birth control pill.

Most health insurance plans and government assistance programs cover the cost of these birth control methods with a copay or deductible. This means that most people who take out this type of birth control pay less than $15 per month on average, according to GoodRx.

Some people who don’t have health insurance or prefer to skip a doctor’s visit can still get birth control prescriptions by seeing a telehealth provider through a video chat, email, text, or phone call. These doctors can write a birth control prescription for delivery to a person’s home or for pick-up at their local pharmacy.

These services, which can be accessed through an app on their smartphone, are convenient for people who don’t have access to a clinic or cannot afford a traditional medical visit. They are especially helpful for marginalized communities, young adults, or people with a lack of childcare options.

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Over-the-Counter

Fortunately, many birth control options do not require a doctor’s visit. These options include the pill, ring, patch, and implants. Those that require a visit can be free under some types of insurance or at community health clinics, and the yearly cost for these methods is usually less than $2,000.

Individual packs of the pill typically cost $20-$50 without insurance, and each pack lasts one month. Annual costs can run as high as $2,000 if the person is using an implant or IUD.

In fact, more than half of reproductive age women say they’re somewhat or very likely to use OTC oral contraceptives. Most of them are cost-sensitive, with nearly a third saying they’d be willing and able to pay up to $20 per month for them. However, 19% of those who would like to use OTC pills report that they’re unwilling or unable to do so for financial reasons.

People who want to purchase birth control online can visit several websites, including Hers, which offers a range of products starting at $12 per month and is HSA and FSA-eligible. Another website is Optum Store, which sells all prescription brands of birth control and ships to the user’s home address. Finally, Pandia Health provides almost all prescription and over-the-counter birth control methods, including ring, patch, and pill packs.

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Sterilization Procedures

If you’re looking for a permanent form of birth control, surgical options include tubal ligation (also known as getting your tubes tied) and vasectomies. These surgical procedures prevent pregnancy by removing or interrupting the anatomical pathways through which gametes—ova in women and sperm in men—travel.

Tubal ligation is performed with a minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy. During this process, one or two small cuts are made in the abdomen and a flexible lighted instrument called a hysteroscope is inserted to visualize tissues. The doctor then ties or cuts the fallopian tubes, usually with clips or rings. Alternatively, the doctor may use a nonsurgical technique called Essure, in which soft coil implants are placed in each of the fallopian tubes. The implant expands over time to block the tubes.

Vasectomy, on the other hand, is a more invasive surgery that requires general anesthesia and sometimes takes several days to recover from. A vasectomy can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,300, depending on where you live and your insurance coverage.

Regardless of the type of birth control method you choose, finding the right contraceptive for you will increase your likelihood of adherence and reduce your risk of unintended pregnancy. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans now cover oral contraceptives, birth control pills and long-acting reversible methods like IUDs and implants without a copay.

Natural Methods

There are several different types of birth control that can prevent pregnancy, including pills, rings, patches, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and shots. The average cost for these types of birth control can range from $0 to over $2,000. But the most common form of birth control, the pill, can be purchased at low or no cost for people with ACA-compliant health insurance coverage.

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The IUD and implant, which are long-acting reversible contraceptives that last between 3 and 4 years, can also be quite expensive. These birth control methods can cost more than $800 per year for someone with full insurance coverage, while those who have to pay a monthly copay can expect annual costs to reach as high as $2,000.

However, the good news is that there are low-cost alternatives to these expensive contraceptives. For example, the vaginal ring contraceptive is available from Planned Parenthood for free without insurance or for a nominal fee with some health insurance plans that include zero out-of-pocket costs. And the birth control patch, which has a similar function to the pill and the ring but is applied directly to the skin, can be bought at some pharmacies for as low as $140 for three patches in one year.

Online telehealth providers are another great option for people looking for cheap birth control options. For instance, K Health offers a monthly subscription service that provides access to primary care doctors via video chat or text, and it accepts most major health insurance. Likewise, Wiso and Lemonaid offer prescription-free birth control packages starting at $15 that can be delivered to a person’s home or picked up at a local drug store.

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