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
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 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
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.