Getting on Birth Control Pills Without Getting Off Your Budget

How to Get the Pill
Birth control pills can be obtained from your doctor. This does not have to be an OB/Gyn. It can be a physician specializing in Family Medicine, Women's Health, and sometimes Internal Medicine. In some cases, you will not see the doctor directly. Another health provider, such as a nurse, nurse-midwife, or physician's assistant will see you. The provider will consult with a supervising physician to determine that you have no medical problems that would be worsened by taking the pill, and to decide which type of pill is best for you.

In any case, you will have your medical history taken, have a pelvic examination, and a Pap test. Most physicians will have you repeat this process once a year to get a refill on the pills. You may also have to come in for a follow-up visit within the first few months of getting on the pill.

The Cost
The initial exam can cost $45-$125. A follow-up visit can cost between $30-$60. The rate depends on the geographic location, type of health provider, popularity of the provider (read: female), and whether or not you've seen this provider before for other things. Nurses and PAs cost less than doctors do. OB/Gyns tend to charge more than other doctors do. Many health insurance policies cover the doctor visits, because these are the same as an annual exam. This holds true, even if the insurance doesn't pay for the birth control pills. The cost of the pill is about $15-$25 or so a month. Generic brand pills cost less. Keep in mind that generics are not required to be exactly the same as the brand name pills. They must be within 20% of the original dosage. That means 20% more or less than the original pill. This is particularly important with birth control pills. A woman's side effects and tolerance of a particular pill is closely related to the dosages of the various hormones contained in them. In short, you might have more side effects with a generic pill than its brand name equivalent.

Can't afford it?
If you can't afford the pills and/or the exams, here are some suggestions:

  • Go to your local Planned Parenthood or other free/reduced cost clinic.
  • If you have insurance plan choices, consider switching to one that covers the pill. Check the overall plan, of course. Insurance plans that cover birth control pills tend to have other benefits for women.
  • Ask your partner to contribute to the costs. If you don't have a regular partner, condoms should be your choice for birth control. The Pill does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, some types of the Pill actually increase your risk of contracting a disease because the hormones cause the lining of the vaginal wall to thin, making it easier for organisms to penetrate.

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