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Plan B is available over the counter in pharmacies for around $50, and health insurance may cover it.
Plan B One-Step is one type of emergency contraception. A person can take it after having sex that might lead to pregnancy without using an effective form of 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 may 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 $40-50. 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 within
The National Women’s Health Network notes that because Plan B is available over the counter, 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 the branded, version of the pill can reduce the cost. Also, people with health insurance should check whether their plan covers emergency contraception.
The sexual health nonprofit 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 low cost or free birth control.
A person can buy the Plan B morning after pill over the counter at pharmacies, drugstores, family planning clinics, and health clinics. A person does not need a prescription or any proof of identification to buy it.
Plan B is available to buy online — but a person needs to 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 check 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 using Plan B as a regular form of birth control.
A person may experience some side effects, and as the FDA notes, common ones include:
The FDA also lists breast tenderness and delayed periods as side effects.
A 2020 review observes that serious side effects are also possible, though very uncommon. Among them are ectopic pregnancy, convulsions, stroke, abdominal hernia, and serious infections.
Effectiveness and weight
A 2015 analysis investigated whether levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception, such as Plan B, was less effective in people with a high weight or body mass index score. It found that this contraception is effective in these cases.
The FDA reports that data regarding this topic is
These findings conflict with 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 medications:
These medications may make Plan B less effective. Anyone taking these drugs should seek medical advice about potential interactions before taking Plan B.
A 2018 study explores some of the reasons that emergency contraception, such as Plan B, can be hard to access.
Religious beliefs may keep pharmacies from stocking or selling it, for example.
In addition, while some areas of the United States legally require emergency medical personnel to inform survivors of sexual assault about emergency contraception, others do not. The study authors report that 17 states and the District of Columbia require care teams to give this information.
In some states, healthcare professionals may refuse requests for emergency contraception due to moral or religious reasons — if they then provide transport to the nearest facility that does dispense this medication.
The authors also highlight these factors that can restrict access to emergency contraception:
- an income that is near the federal poverty line
- Gaps in knowledge about birth control options, efficacy, side effects, and age restrictions
- misinformation from healthcare professionals
- language barriers
- living in a rural area
They write that adolescents, in particular, may be concerned about transportation to an emergency contraception provider, confidentiality, and stigma.
A person’s race may also affect the care that they receive when requesting emergency contraception.
Learn more about racism in healthcare.
Researchers say that levonorgestrel-based pills are an effective form of contraception and that Plan B is most effective within 72 hours after unprotected sex.
Planned Parenthood states that Plan B and other levonorgestrel-based morning after pills reduce the chances 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. It may be necessary to take another dose.
It is also important to receive medical attention for people who:
- suspect that they are pregnant
- have a period that is more than 1 week late
- have a period that is shorter or longer than usual
- experience 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 sex. However, it is worth noting that this medication does not protect against STIs.
Can you buy Plan B in bulk?
Plan B comes as a packet with one pill. There are no restrictions on how many packets a person can buy. 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 contraceptives. However, some require a valid prescription before they cover the cost.
Plan B is a levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptive pill. It is available in many pharmacies and drug stores without a prescription, including some online stores.
It is most effective within 72 hours after unprotected sex. Doctors do not recommend it for regular, long-term use. It can cause side effects, and very rarely, these can be severe.