The cost of birth control depends on two main factors–the type of birth control you use and whether you have health insurance.
Your out-of-pocket cost could be as low as $0 per month if you have health insurance.
Much of the cost of birth control for people that have health insurance will be co-payments for doctors visits for the initial prescription or insertion procedure.
Some states offer birth control prescriptions through online telehealth resources.
States like Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have this option.
This article will discuss how birth control works and the cost of birth control.
It will explain the factors that influence the cost of birth control, and finally, how to save money on birth control.
How Does Birth Control Work?
There are four main types of birth control (other than abstinence) available to people and men for pregnancy prevention.
Deciding which type is right for you will depend on whether you plan to get pregnant soon, if you’re looking for a permanent method of birth control, or if you can’t take hormones for medical reasons.
Barrier methods: To work effectively, all barrier methods should be used with a spermicide. Barrier methods include the diaphragm, cervical cap, condoms (male and female), and the sponge. However, some people are susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) when they use barrier method birth control and may find it unsuitable for them.
Short-acting hormonal birth control: These methods must be managed on a regular basis, so users need to be responsible and follow a set schedule. Examples of short-acting hormonal birth controls include:
- Birth control pills: Taken daily
- Nuva ring: Inserted for three weeks and removed for one week each month
- Skin patch: Changed weekly
- Depo-Provera: Injection every three months
Long-acting hormonal birth control: These last from 3-10 years, depending on which type you use. They need to be inserted and removed by a trained medical provider. Options for long-acting birth control include the intrauterine device (IUD), either the copper or one of the hormonal brands, including Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena, or the arm implant.
Sterilization: people can have a tubal ligation, which means getting their “tubes tied.” This will keep them from getting pregnant for the rest of their lives. Men can have a vasectomy to prevent pregnancy.
You’ll need to factor in the following and discuss them with your doctor before choosing any of the available birth control options:
- Your age
- Any health challenges you may have
- When and if you want to get pregnant
- Your relationships–whether you’re married, single, or in an exclusive situation
- Does your religion keep you from opting for some types of birth control?
- Whether preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is important to you and your lifestyle
The Cost of Birth Control
Most health insurers cover 100% of birth control costs.
Still, you should check with your insurance company to determine what’s covered on your plan.
If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll need to consider your budget when deciding which birth control is the best choice for you.
|Birth Control method||Average cost per month or per dose||Total cost per year|
|Birth control pill||$0-$50 per month||$0-$600 per year|
|Birth control patch||$0-$150 per month||$0-$1800 per year|
|Birth control shot (Depo-Provera)||$0-$50 per month||$0-$600 per year|
|Vaginal ring||$0-$200 per month||$0-$2400 per year|
|Intrauterine device (IUD)||N/A||One-time expense of $0-$1300|
|Birth control arm implant||N/A||One-time expense of $0-$1300|
|Diaphragm||$15-$60 in spermicide costs depending on usage||One-time expense of $0-$250|
|Condoms||$15-$60 per year depending on usage||N/A|
|Phexxi contraceptive gel||12 applicators $0-$267||Depends on usage|
Factors that Influence Birth Control Cost
The cost of birth control will vary depending on the following factors.
Health insurance coverage
The most significant factor influencing the cost of birth control is whether or not the user has health insurance, which often covers most of the expenses.
However, insurance does not cover the cost of spermicide needed when using the prescription barrier methods, the diaphragm, and surgical cap.
At $15 per tube, the additional cost will depend on how often you use the birth control product.
Prescriptions vs. over-the-counter
Over-the-counter birth control methods, such as sponge and condoms, are far less expensive than prescription options.
However, these methods are less reliable, averaging 83% pregnancy protection on the low end vs. 99% for IUDs.
For those without health insurance coverage, community health clinics may offer services and medication discounted or, in some situations, for free.
Prescription products may require a co-pay for office visits covering the initial prescription of the birth control pill and follow-up visits for refills.
IUDs and arm implants need to be placed by a trained medical provider, which will include a possible co-pay as well.
The diaphragm and cervical cap require a fitting by your medical provider.
They may need replacement after you’ve given birth, as your body changes during that process.
Sterilization for people (tubal ligation) is a surgical procedure and may involve a large deductible based on your insurance plan.
Sterilization without insurance can cost up to $6,000.
In addition, tubal ligation requires one to three weeks of recovery time, so you may need to add lost earnings, childcare, and any additional medications needed to the total cost.
Sterilization for men (vasectomy) is an in-office procedure done under local anesthesia.
Some insurance companies will cover the cost of a vasectomy, so check with your insurance company about their contracted coverage. The average price out-of-pocket for a vasectomy is $750-$1200.
How to Save Money on Birth Control
Since most people with health insurance will pay little or nothing for their birth control, saving money to prevent pregnancy is of most concern to those without healthcare coverage.
There are free clinics in every state where people can get the birth control they need.
Also, you can do searches online for coupons and discounts on spermicides and condoms.
Other ways to save money on birth control include:
- Requesting generic vs. brand name products
- Getting a 90-day refill instead of 30 days
- Visiting Planned Parenthood for low price options
- Contacting the drug manufacturer for help with payments
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Do Student Health Policies Have to Cover Birth Control Without Co-Pays? (2021).
The Costs of Contraception. (1983).
Over-the-Counter Access to Hormonal Contraception – ACOG. (2021).