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British Columbians now have access to free prescription contraceptives, a first in Canada.
As of April 1, BC PharmaCare will cover the costs of several different contraceptive options, which the provincial government says will save people up to $300 a year for those who pay around $25 a month for hormonal pills.
“Making contraception free is a major victory for gender equality and reproductive justice in British Columbia, especially for patients struggling to access the contraceptive of their choice,” said Ruth Habte, AccessBC campaign organizer and obstetrics and gynaecology resident physician.
“We’re elated that British Columbia has made history and become the first province in Canada to make contraception free.”
People will still be required to get a prescription from a doctor, nurse practitioner or midwife at a walk-in clinic, hospital or through a street nurse program.
People will just have to present their prescription and BC Services Card at a pharmacy and the pharmacist will fill the prescription, which will be directly reimbursed by BC PharmaCare and result in no charge to the person.
More than 60 commonly used birth control methods will be covered, including hormonal pills, copper and hormonal IUDs and hormone implants and injections.
In addition, emergency oral contraception (morning-after pill) is also included in the coverage.
Some name brands may only have a partial benefit while generic options are covered for free. People are encouraged to speak with their pharmacists about generic options for their method of birth control. A full list of covered contraceptives can be found here.
“We’re thrilled that after six years of advocacy from our volunteers and supporters across the province, free prescription contraception is now a reality in BC,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, AccessBC campaign chair and co-founder.
“I am proud that our efforts are helping to inspire change across the country, and grateful to all of the advocates who are stepping up and pushing for reproductive justice. Everyone deserves access to prescription contraception.”
Contraceptives can be prescribed for any reason, including non-contraceptive use, such as osteoporosis prevention.
Later this spring, pharmacists will be able to prescribe contraceptives as part of a BC plan to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice.
To learn more about free contraceptives in BC, click here.