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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. For example, if you visit a pharmacy near your college in San Jose, California and get a birth control prescription from a pharmacist, you can transfer that prescription to a pharmacy in San Diego, California during the summer break. On the other hand, if you visit a pharmacy in one state and get a birth control prescription from the pharmacist, you may not be able to transfer that prescription to a pharmacy if you visit or move to a new state. Check with the pharmacist at the pharmacy in the new 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. You can use your insurance to pay for medications prescribed by a pharmacist. Most insurance plans cover birth control with no patient copay. If you don't have insurance or your insurance doesn't cover your birth control, let your pharmacist know if you prefer a low cost method and they can help you find one that will work for you. Most pharmacies have birth control methods that cost less than $25 per month.




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. However, some California pharmacies are starting to offer the service to adults only. Please check with your pharmacy on any limitations.




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. In California, this service is confidential as protected by law and pharmacies cannot share any information about you with your parents unless you sign a written authorization. If you live in California and wish you keep the insurance information confidential too, visit myhealthmyinfo.org.




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. Some states have laws that require health insurances to cover the full year's supply all at once but unfortunately this doesn't always happen the way it should. The states that require insurance coverage of one year's supply are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington DC. If you live in one of these states and encounter trouble with your health insurance covering a one year supply at once, please let us know. Alternatively, you can always pay out of pocket for your birth control and get as much supply as you'd ike. If you need extra supplies because you are traveling, let your pharmacy know so they can request a vacation override from your health insurance.




In which states can pharmacists prescribe birth control?


Pharmacists in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington are able to prescribe birth control and provide direct access to women -- thanks to state laws expanding access! It's also coming soon to New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. 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 other 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." Pharmacists are experts when it comes to medicines and using them to keep you healthy. Pharmacist roles are expanding to meet everyone's healthcare needs. Pharmacists can now provide direct access to many preventive health and medication management services. The expanded services that pharmacists can provide vary state to state.




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.





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