British Columbians can get free birth control starting today

Apr 1 2023, 4:00 pm

BC is taking a huge step toward providing adequate healthcare for all.

The province is the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide free prescription contraception, which BC says will save patients $300 annually for those who pay $25 per month for birth control pills. Over a lifetime, that’s thousands in savings.

But more importantly, it puts reproductive health more firmly in the hands of patients.

As of Saturday, April 1, 2023, BC PharmaCare will now cover the full cost of dozens of contraceptives for BC residents, including:

  • Oral contraceptives
  • IUDs – hormonal and copper
  • Hormone implant
  • Hormone injection
  • Emergency oral contraceptives (no prescription needed)

Now, BC residents can get the pill and the morning-after pill (i.e., Plan B) for free. Most free oral contraceptives are generic versions, while name brands like Alesse 21 are partially covered.

How to get free birth control

You don’t have to register or fill out forms for this program. Bring your prescription and BC Services Card to your pharmacy. For the morning-after pill, you don’t need a prescription. There are no fees; the prescription and its dispensing by the pharmacist are 100% free.

If you have a prescription for birth control, but it’s not covered by PharmaCare, you can ask the pharmacist to change it to an equivalent drug for free.

Getting a prescription for birth control

If you don’t already have a prescription, that could be the trickiest part of accessing free birth control. You will need a prescription from a doctor, nurse practitioner, or midwife.

You can get one via a walk-in clinic, hospital, or street nurse program. Make sure to ask for a prescription that’s fully covered by PharmaCare.

Later in the spring, the province said that pharmacists would also be able to prescribe contraceptives. To learn more, you can visit the Options for Sexual Health clinic finder or call 8-1-1 for more info.

You can learn more about the free contraceptives available to British Columbians on the BC Government website.

With files from Kenneth Chan

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