New apps prescribe birth control pill without ever stepping foot in doctor office

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Birth controlIt’s not an over-the-counter medication, but it’s now possible to get a prescription for birth control without ever visiting a gynecologist.

The New York Times recently rounded up a set new smartphone apps and websites that will prescribe you the pill–or patch, ring or morning-after pill–if you answer just a few questions about your background and health. Some of the services require a video-conference with a doctor or nurse practitioner–and some require this in certain states where that is the law for telemedicine–though many users appreciate being able to grill the doctor with any and all questions.

All of the services have a clinician write the prescription, and that prescriber must be licensed in the state in which you live.

And it’s not just an easier method to obtain the pill–it’s also more economical for many, especially those in areas that are far from a prescribing doctor. Some the services do charge, but some take insurance and the fees are modest. Some ship to your door, while others send it to your local pharmacy so that you can use whatever insurance you have.

The new method is gaining traction for many reasons, including the lack of political hurdles–the apps just need to follow telemedicine regulations for the state in which the patient lives–and because many health experts already believe that birth control should be an over-the-counter medication, but can’t make that happen due to conservative opposition.

Some of the apps are digital doctors in general, and can provide assistance on other medical issues or prescribe other medications.

One of the apps is put out by Planned Parenthood, already a megahouse for birth control prescriptions in an effort to reduce unintended pregnancies, though that specific app only services a few states in the Midwest and Northwest.

However, some are available right here in Connecticut!

The New York Times article provides a survey to determine which app is best for you, but here’s a rundown of the options:

  • Prjkt Ruby
    • Operates in Connecticut
    • Prescribes to women who are of the legal age for consent in the state in which they live
    • Donates 25 cents from each $20 pack of birth control to a nonprofit providing birth control in developing countries
    • Does not take insurance
    • No service or consultation fee, no shipping fee, ships to your door
  • Maven
    • Operates in Connecticut
    • Requires a video conference ($10 with a midwife or nurse practitioner, $35 with a doctor)
    • Donates $1 per appointment to help pay for appointments for those who are financially struggling
  • Virtuwell
    • Operates in Connecticut
    • Requires an online interview, and costs $45 per visit
    • Insurance accepted
    • Only prescribes to those who are between ages 18 and 34

Programs not yet in Connecticut (but maybe one day!):

 

  • Nurx
    • Only for California and military addresses
    • Insurance accepted, no service fee
    • If you don’t have insurance, $15 per month for birth control
    • Ships to your front door
  • Lemonaid
    • Only for California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington
    • A doctor reviews an online health survey you do before prescribing
    • Service fee is $15, pills can cost as little as $9 per month
    • Prescribes to women 18 and older, specific pills only for those over 35
    • Ships to your local pharmacy for you to pick up
  • Planned Parenthood Care
    • Only for Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Washington
    • Requires a video conference
    • Ships to remote areas by float plane
    • Cost of visit in $15
    • Insurance accepted