Tell Them insists that lawmakers hear your voice.
We work to improve reproductive health policy in South Carolina.

Plan B and Next Step: A Balancing Act

Posted by Ryan Morgan on September 17, 2013 at 5:27 AM
PaulaBy: Paula Appling In August 2013, the FDA regulations on emergency contraception changed so that one product, Plan B One-Step, became over-the-counter and not constrained by age. The spirit of this change made emergency contraceptives more accessible. An alternate product, Next Step, is the generic drug. It requires a prescription if you are under 17. Whether a medication is over-the-counter or not affects more than its availability. It also affects cost: insurance is more likely to pay for a prescription drug than a non-prescription drug. Over the past week, I have participated in Tell Them’s #SCECOTC scavenger hunt. I have learned interesting trivia, and seen interesting things. "Over-the-counter" means "no prescription is necessary." It also means that if you buy without a prescription, you will cover the entire cost. Plan B One-Step is OTC. However, you can also buy it with a prescription so that insurance might cover some or all of its cost. Next Step is available by prescription only if you are under 17. Labels matter. If a pharmacy carries an older box (delivered before August) that includes the age constraint, they must abide by it. Some individuals think that "emergency contraceptives" could mean "condoms." Or maybe they think a 50-something-year-old woman finds it easier to say emergency contraceptive than to say CONDOM. The worry of shoplifting is a reason cited as to why a pharmacy keeps the emergency contraceptives behind the counter. Know your options. Ask your doctor if s/he would write you an emergency contraceptive contingency prescription. Ask about possible side effects of the drugs. Know that using emergency contraceptives is not an appropriate form of birth control for the long term. There’s a reason it’s called “emergency.” Of the pharmacies I visited, only two (one being a university pharmacy) carry the generic, Next Choice. Having an option is a good thing. If you’re willing to pay more money and need to invest less time and really want to keep your oops moment on the down low, then maybe Plan B One-Step is your choice. However, if you have time and inclination to get the prescription, insurance might pick up the total cost. Some life events are difficult to plan for, sometimes because you want to think they won't happen. Better to be prepared. Paula Appling is a full-time volunteer, wife, and mother of two successful adult kids.  She loves to hike and backpack.

How to connect