In Oregon, No Doctor Needed for Birth Control Prescriptions


The temporary appearance of the Bundy clan notwithstanding, Oregon is a pretty cool state. Starting this year, women in Oregon can get hormonal contraceptives directly from a pharmacy—no doctor’s prescription required. The New York Times provides the details:

These birth control methods — which include pills, patches and rings — will still require prescriptions (so they are not technically over the counter), but now pharmacists who complete the Oregon training protocol can issue those prescriptions directly. At the pharmacy, women must complete a 20-question self-assessment so that pharmacists can determine which hormonal methods might be appropriate and safe. About 200 pharmacists in Oregon have completed the training so far and an aide to the bill’s sponsor said that most of the major chain pharmacies, including Rite Aid, Costco and Walgreens, have signed agreements to train a significant number of pharmacists.

….Under the Affordable Care Act, all prescription birth control is covered by insurance. The only possible additional cost is a one-time or annual fee of $25 or so for the assessment services provided by the pharmacist. It is possible that insurers will cover that fee, but that is yet to be determined.

Good for Oregon. Making contraceptives more easily available leads to more consistent use, which in turn makes them more effective. Every state should do this.

And California, which is also a pretty cool state, is following suit later this year. Unlike Oregon, which requires a doctor to write the first prescription for women under 18, California’s law has no age restriction at all. In the contest for coolness, California will soon be taking the lead.