Frequently Asked Questions
Can I transfer a birth control prescription written by a pharmacist?
Yes, you can transfer a birth control prescription written by a pharmacist within the state.
How much is this going to cost me?
Most pharmacies charge a small visit fee for this service -- this visit fee is generally not covered by insurance but you can use your health savings account. Pharmacies are generally charging anywhere from $0 to $50 for the visit fee. This covers the consultation and prescription for up to one year of birth control.
Are there any age limits?
It depends on which state you are in. There is no legal age requirement to access this service in California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, and Oregon. However, some of the pharmacies in these states are starting to offer the service to adults only.
Is it necessary to have an exam and pap smear?
While an annual well woman exam with your primary care provider or obstetrician/gynecologist is important for your overall health and some cancer screenings, it is not necessary to link this with hormonal birth control use. Hormonal birth control can safely be provided based on your health history and blood pressure.
Will my parents find out?
It depends on your state. Check with your pharmacy.
How much birth control supplies can I get?
Most pharmacies will give you a prescription for one year of birth control supplies. You can request to get the full year's supply all at once. The amount of birth control supply the pharmacy can give you each time depends on your health insurance. If your insurance only covers one or three months' supply at a time, you can return to the pharmacy for refill supplies throughout the year until the prescription expires.
In which states can pharmacists prescribe birth control?
Pharmacists in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are able to prescribe birth control and provide direct access -- thanks to state laws expanding access! It’s also coming soon to Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. Yay for helpful policies!
That doesn’t mean every pharmacy in those states is participating though. These are all relatively new laws so you should check this site or with your pharmacy directly to be sure they offer the service before you go in. Also, if your pharmacy is in one of these states and isn’t offering this service yet, let them know you’d like them to offer it! If they get patient requests, that will encourage them to start participating.
Pharmacists in your states may be providing this service in collaboration with physicians or other provider types in clinic settings, but this will be rare.
Are pharmacists doctors?
Most practicing pharmacists have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). Previously, pharmacists could practice with a Bachelors degree but that changed almost 20 years ago and all pharmacy school graduates have a doctorate degree. So, most likely your pharmacist has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and you can call them "doctor."
Does this mean birth control pills are available over the counter?
Pharmacist prescribing of birth control is not the same as over-the-counter access. With pharmacist prescribing, you can expect a consultation to review of your health history and a measurement of your blood pressure. Over-the-counter medicines do not require a consultation and can be purchased by anyone. Anyone can purchase one type of emergency contraception pill over-the-counter, but there are no monthly over-the-counter birth control pills approved yet. However, there is a movement to get an over-the-counter birth control pill approved. See the Free the Pill website for more information or to get involved.
Do I need an appointment or can I just walk in?
Most pharmacies welcome walk ins. We highly recommend you call first to make sure there is a trained pharmacist available when you go in. The pharmacy may also have suggestions on good times to come in when it's less busy to minimize your wait time.