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Plan B is available over the counter at pharmacies for around $50 and may be covered by health insurance.
Plan B One-Step is a type of emergency contraception. A person can take it after having sex that could lead to pregnancy without using effective birth control.
Plan B contains levonorgestrel. This is a synthetic hormone called progestin, which can delay ovulation and prevent pregnancy.
This article looks at the price of Plan B, where to get it, how well it works, and what side effects it can cause. It also explores other safety considerations, when to see a doctor, and some frequently asked questions.
The Plan B One-Step morning after pill can cost between $40 and $50. A health insurance plan may provide coverage. Also, the cost may be lower if a person has a prescription.
Plan B is only effective if a person takes it inside
The National Women’s Health Network notes that because Plan B is available without a prescription, health insurance plans may not cover the cost.
Some insurance companies only cover it if a person has a prescription from a doctor.
How to save on Plan B
Opting for the generic, rather than brand-name, version of the pill can lower the cost. Also, people with health insurance should check to see if their plan covers emergency contraception.
The nonprofit sexual health organization Planned Parenthood notes that Plan B may be available for free at local health departments and family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood centers.
Learn more about where to get free or low-cost birth control.
A person can buy the Plan B morning after pill without a prescription at pharmacies, drugstores, family planning clinics, and health clinics. A person does not need a prescription or any proof of identification to purchase it.
Plan B is available to purchase online, but a person must take it within
This table compares some online retailers that sell Plan B. “FSA” stands for Flexible Spending Account and “HSA” stands for Health Savings Account.
It is always important to verify coverage with an insurer before making a purchase.
Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. And even if a person uses it correctly, it can still fail to prevent pregnancy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend the use of Plan B as a regular form of birth control.
A person can experience a few side effects, and as the FDA notes, the most common include:
The FDA also lists breast tenderness and delayed menstruation as side effects.
A 2020 review notes that serious side effects are also possible, although very rare. These include ectopic pregnancy, seizures, stroke, abdominal hernia, and serious infections.
Effectiveness and weight
A 2015 review investigated whether levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception, such as Plan B, was less effective in people with a high weight or body mass index. It was found that this contraceptive is effective in these cases.
The FDA reports that the data on this subject is
These findings contradict Planned Parenthood’s warnings that Plan B may not be effective in people who weigh more than 155 pounds.
A person may not be able to use Plan B if they are taking any of these drugs:
These drugs can make Plan B less effective. Anyone taking these medications should consult a doctor about possible interactions before taking Plan B.
A 2018 study explores some of the reasons emergency contraception, like Plan B, can be difficult to access.
Religious beliefs may prevent pharmacies from stocking or selling it, for example.
Additionally, while some areas of the United States legally require emergency medical personnel to inform sexual assault survivors about emergency contraception, others do not. The study authors report that 17 states and the District of Columbia require care teams to provide this information.
In some states, health care providers may deny requests for emergency contraception on moral or religious grounds, if they then provide transportation to the nearest facility that dispenses this medication.
The authors also highlight these factors that may restrict access to emergency contraception:
- an income that is close to the federal poverty line
- gaps in knowledge about birth control options, effectiveness, side effects, and age restrictions
- misinformation of health professionals
- language barriers
- live in a rural area
They write that adolescents, in particular, may be concerned about transportation to an emergency contraceptive provider, confidentiality, and stigma.
A person’s race can also affect the care they receive when requesting emergency contraception.
Learn more about racism in health care.
The researchers say that levonorgestrel-based pills are an effective form of contraception and that Plan B is most effective within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Planned Parenthood claims that Plan B and other levonorgestrel-based morning-after pills reduce the chance of pregnancy by 75-89%.
A person should contact a healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, if they vomit within 2 hours of taking Plan B. Another dose may be needed.
It is also important to get medical care for people who:
- suspect they are pregnant
- have a period that is more than 1 week late
- have a period that is shorter or longer than usual
- experiencing sudden pain in the lower stomach
Below are answers to some common questions about Plan B.
How effective is Plan B?
Planned Parenthood reports that Plan B is 75-89% effective if a person takes it within 72 hours of intercourse. However, it is worth noting that this drug does not protect against STIs.
Can Plan B be purchased in bulk?
Plan B comes in a package with one pill. There are no restrictions on how many packs a person can purchase. However, health experts do not recommend using it regularly in the long term.
Does insurance cover Plan B?
Some insurance companies cover Plan B and other emergency contraception. However, some require a valid prescription before the cost will be covered.
Plan B is a levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptive pill. It is available at many pharmacies and drugstores without a prescription, including some online stores.
It is most effective within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. Doctors do not recommend it for regular long-term use. It can cause side effects and, very rarely, these can be serious.