Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About...
How to Get Emergency Contraception
Do I need a prescription to get emergency contraceptive pills?
In the U.S., progestin-only EC is available on the shelf without age restrictions to women and men. Look for Plan B One-Step, Take Action, Next Choice One-Dose, My Way or other generics in the family planning aisle.
After years of court battles, progestin-only EC is finally fully OTC in the United States! Regulations on the sale of EC have changed frequently, so it can be quite confusing. Below is some information about how the different brands of EC are sold. If you want to use ella, call the pharmacy first to be sure that it is in stock.
Progestin-only EC (like Plan B One-Step and its generic forms Take Action, Next Choice One Dose and My Way) are approved for unrestricted sale on store shelves. Even though the package directions for the generics say that it’s intended for use by women ages 17 and older, anyone can buy it without needing to show ID. Plan B One-Step usually costs about $40-$50, and the generics cost about $35-$45.
- If you want to use insurance to purchase EC, go to the pharmacy counter and ask for help.
- You can order a generic form of Plan B One-Step at www.afterpill.com for $20 + $5 shipping. This site does not offer expedited shipping, so it's not meant for emergency use, but you can stock up and keep it on hand for future use.
- ella is sold by prescription only, regardless of age. You can also order ella through an online prescription service for $59, including shipping.
If you want to use your insurance coverage to get EC, you can still get a prescription from a licensed health care provider for ella (click here for a description of when you might want to use ella instead of progestin-only EC). If you want to use progestin-only EC, like Plan B One-Step, you'll need to check with your insurance company to see what your plan covers. While some providers – like Planned Parenthood clinics – may have emergency contraception on hand and can give you the pills directly, you will often also need to visit a pharmacy to fill the prescription just like you do with other medications. You can also use this online prescription service to purchase ella for $59 including next-day shipping.
Laws in some states also allow pharmacists to provide emergency contraceptive pills directly to women of all ages without requiring a doctor's prescription (although not every pharmacist is doing it). These agreements may not apply to ella, so call first.
To find the nearest licensed health care providers, including pharmacists, providing emergency contraception in the US, try searching our database.
For a more detailed academic review of the medical and social science literature about improving women’s access to emergency contraception, click here .