The Birth Control Pill: Paying for it and Refilling it (Without Parental Knowledge)
How insurance works, paying out-of-pocket, and refilling your prescription
PAYING FOR BIRTH CONTROL
Depending on how much your parents know about your birth control, you have a few possible ways to pay for your pill.
If your normal doctor prescribed your birth control (or if you brought your insurance info to a Title X clinic), your parental insurance will most probably completely cover the cost of the pill. Every month, you can go to the pharmacy and pick up your prescription for zero dollars, which means there are no credit card transactions for your parents to track/no need to scramble for money every month. The prescription might need to be renewed occasionally (roughly once a year), but you can call the doctor’s office and remind them to do that without ever letting your parents know. This method—of using parental insurance—is how most people I know get their pill. Many types of insurance don’t inform policyholders of every minor prescription, so many people get a prescription once, fill it monthly at the pharmacy, and their parents never find out.
However, if you’re on a parent’s health insurance policy, your parents might be sent an “explanation of benefits” (or EOB) that lists every medication/medical service that was covered. Don’t panic—not every insurance policy sends them, and there’s a good chance your parents will just throw the mail out as junk. Every policy is different—some policies don’t even count prescriptions on EOBs, or don’t list every expense. Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about this, unless you’ve ever actually seen an EOB in the mail or know your parents are very detailed oriented about their paperwork. An EOB tells you how much of a service is covered by insurance; it’s not a bill. Many people don’t feel the need to open them because they already know how much they owe; for example, if your parents know insurance covers everything but a $15 dollar co-pay for primary care visits, it’s unlikely that they’ll keep checking what’s covered every month. Under most insurance, the pill is free; if your parents are expecting a zero dollar bill that month, and their bill is zero dollars, it’s unlikely they’ll investigate that further.
However, if you can’t handle any chance of your parents finding out, you have further options. If you know what insurance your family uses, you can call your insurance provider and specifically ask what expenses are included on your EOBs. You can also ask them to not include “private” expenses, or specifically ask to send EOBs with private info to a different address. I know it seems annoying to call and talk to someone, but life is so much easier (and cost-efficient!) if you’re using insurance.
If you ultimately decide you don’t want to use parental insurance, you can pay for birth control out of pocket. With a normal prescription (i.e., seeing your normal doctor and going to a normal pharmacy), this might get a little costly; you’ll probably pay between $20 and $50 dollars a month. However, if you’re willing to branch out, the cost can be far cheaper. Sites like The Pill Club, Nurx, and Twentyeight Health will ship you your BC pills at the lowest cost. All three of these sites are trustworthy, discreet, and worth checking out if don’t have insurance. These options are best if you lack easy transportation.
KEEPING YOUR PHARMACY VISITS A SECRET
Once you have a prescription (and if you choose not to use an online service), you still need to do a little bit of work to stay discreet. Be sure to do your research and tell your doctor to send your prescription to a pharmacy other than the one your parents generally use. For instance, if your dad generally picks up prescriptions at the Walgreens on Main Street, tell your doctor to send the prescription to the CVS on Lincoln Ave. That way, it’s unlikely you’ll run into your parents when picking up the prescription, and your parents won’t get any messages about your prescription being ready to pick up once it’s filled.
Once your doctor sends the prescription to the pharmacy, it shouldn’t take long to fill. Immediately after you get your prescription, go to the pharmacy and pick it up. If you choose to use parental insurance, so you won’t need to hand the pharmacist a credit card or ID—all you’ll need is your name and date of birth. However, if you need a specific type of birth control, or if you’re paying out of pocket, you might need to cover some costs. As always, your credit/debit card doesn’t show what you’re buying, only where, so don’t worry about a charge showing up unless your parents would be suspicious about you spending any money at CVS or Walgreens. If necessary, you can pay with cash, which is untraceable.
With or without insurance, using an in-person pharmacy requires refilling your prescription. Once a month, you’ll have to call the pharmacy and request a refill. This is why it’s important to use a pharmacy that is different than the rest of your family, to ensure that your dad doesn’t get any calls about a prescription that is ready to be picked up. To refill a prescription, all you have to do is look up your pharmacy’s phone number (by looking up “Austin Main Street Walgreens phone number,” for instance) and asking to refill. They’ll then ask you to read out a number found on your last pill pack, or they’ll ask for the name of your pill. Either way, don’t throw out pill packs until you’ve filled your next month’s prescription.
If you move locations and need a new pharmacy (for instance, your campus center pharmacy), don’t worry. Simply call your new pharmacy, give them the phone number of your old pharmacy, and ask to transfer the prescription.
It’s important that you call to refill your prescription about a week before you need to start your new month, since taking pill 1 on the first day of your cycle is essential. If you’re worried about forgetting, most pharmacies have the option to automatically refill.
Once you have the pill, READ BELOW on how to START IT CORRECTLY