How and where to get birth control, no matter your circumstances

How and where to get birth control, no matter your circumstances
Birth control is covered on most insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, but uninsured people have options, too.BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
  • In some states, you can get a prescription for birth control online or through a pharmacist.
  • Depending on the type, your birth control may be free with insurance.

Whether you're trying to prevent pregnancy, get clear skin, or relieve period cramps, there are many reasons to consider getting birth control.

You will need a prescription to get hormonal birth control, including the pill, implant, shot, patch, or IUDs. Most people get a prescription by visiting a doctor or going to a local health organization like Planned Parenthood, but new options are emerging to get birth control directly from a pharmacist or even online.

Here's how to get a birth control method that's right for you, whatever your circumstances may be.

In the news: The Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, allowing states to restrict access to abortion. Experts say some forms of birth control, such as the morning-after pill and IUDs, could also be at risk of becoming banned or more difficult to access in certain states.

How to get birth control without insurance

"Depending on where you live, one may be able to access birth control through an online prescriber," says Kate Grindlay Kelly, a researcher focusing on reproductive health and birth control access.


However, some states don't allow you to get birth control online, so you should check the company's website to make sure it is available in your area.

Quick tip: Use Bedsider's searchable database for online birth control to see which options are available in your area.

Most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act cover the cost of birth control and doctor's visits related to birth control. If your insurance does not cover your doctor visit, the cost can range from $35 to $250.

If you are buying birth control online, you can typically get it for free with insurance.

Cost estimates from the National Women's Health Network show that without insurance, there is a wide range of costs for different types of birth control:

  • Birth control pills run between $20 and $50 per month.
  • NuvaRing costs around $100 per month.
  • The Depo shot is $60 and is given every 3 months.
  • Birth control implants are over $800 and last for 3 years.
  • IUDs come with a range of costs. Mirena and Paragard, for example, cost over $1,000 and last 5 and 10 years, respectively. Whereas Liletta, similar to Mirena, is less expensive.

Some methods like IUDs have a high starting price but save money over time. Whereas you can purchase birth control pills for a relatively low payment if you don't have health insurance.

Along with the price, you'll also need to consider your needs and health history.

"Health care providers consider a number of factors when deciding what type of birth control to prescribe, including a patient's medical history, blood pressure, and family history," says Kelly.

How to get free birth control

Certain types of birth control are free with health insurance.

If you don't have health insurance and your income is low, you can apply for Medicaid to help cover the costs of birth control.


If you don't qualify for Medicaid but still struggle with birth control costs, you can visit Planned Parenthood or a similar organization. You do not need to have insurance to use their services, and they generally charge prices based on your income level.

Kelly also recommends a program from Power to Decide called BCBenefits. This program covers not only the cost of birth control, but other related costs as well, such as taking the day off of work to go to the doctor, transportation, and childcare.

Quick tip: For an emergency situation, look into local organizations, such as abortion funds like Yellowhammer Fund in the Gulf South, that often provide free access to emergency contraceptives.

Where can I pick up my birth control?

If convenience is an important factor for you, you can usually pick up birth control at any local pharmacy or have it mailed to you.

But beware of "refusal laws" in certain states. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are 6 states where pharmacists can refuse to give contraceptives without legal ramifications. They are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Mississippi
  • South Dakota

Can I get birth control without a doctor?

There are 17 states (plus the District of Columbia) where pharmacists can prescribe birth control. However, some require doctor's visits after a certain period of time, and three of these states allow pharmacists to refuse.

You don't need a doctor's prescription for some non-hormonal, over-the-counter birth control options. They include:

As far as emergency contraception goes, levonorgestrel morning-after pills, including Take Action or Plan B, can be bought over the counter, but if you have health insurance and want them to cover it, you'll need a prescription. Ella, a more effective form of emergency contraception, requires a prescription.

How to get emergency contraception

How and where to get birth control, no matter your circumstances
Virojt Changyencham/Getty Images

Without a prescription, prices for emergency contraceptives may vary, but are available at several large retailers.

Insider's takeaway

All types of hormonal birth control (except for the hormonal morning-after pill) require a prescription.


Some hormonal methods like the pill and NuvaRing can be prescribed online in certain states and picked up at a pharmacy or mailed to your door.

For other types of birth control, you'll need to see a healthcare provider, especially if the method requires in-office visits, such as for an IUD insertion or Depo shots.

Many insurance plans cover birth control. Without insurance, birth control can cost anywhere from $20 to $1,000.

You might be able to get coverage under Medicaid. Some organizations, like Planned Parenthood, will price services based on your income. There are also programs, such as BCBenefits, that offer financial help with acquiring birth control.

If you can't see a doctor, there are several non-hormonal birth control options available over the counter, including condoms, spermicide, and sponges.