Last updated on October 25th, 2020 at 03:56 pm
“Women sure do have it easy these days” — said nobody ever. But life has definitely improved for women looking to acquire birth control online. The internet teems with new services offering a monthly delivery of female contraceptives at an affordable price. Whether you take “the pill” or prefer modern alternatives, companies like Nurx, Hers, and Pill Club are eager to ship quality BC to your door. Every. Single. Month. We took a deep dive into these relatively new subscription services to compare three of the best-known providers of online birth control.
How do Nurx, Hers, and Pill Club work?
All three providers ask patients to first complete an extensive questionnaire. Pro-tip: You’ll need a blood pressure reading from the last 6 months, so get that first. Most states now allow you to fill a birth control prescription online, but if you happen to live somewhere that doesn’t, you’ll have to get a ‘script the old fashioned way. (i.e. not online)
What kind of birth control do Nurx, Hers, and Pill Club offer?
The vast number of birth control options offered on these platforms is truly enough to make your head spin. Here are a few broad classifications to consider:
- Form: pill vs. patch vs. ring vs. shot
- Type: Progestin-only (POPs) vs. combination pills (progestin and estrogen) vs. emergency contraception (PlanB)
- Pill Cycle: (28-days vs. 24-days vs. 21-days)
- Brand: (Yaz vs. Molan vs. Camila vs. Lutera, and dozens of others)
If you’ve already found a preferred brand of birth control that works for you, you’re very likely to be able to get it online from one of these providers. Instead of listing every permutation under the sun, here’s a little cheatsheet comparing Nurx, Hers, and Pill Club’s offerings:
Pricing: Hers vs. Nurx vs. Pill Club
|# of birth control options||10||50+||100+|
|Offers alternative (non-pill) options?||No||Patch (Xulane®)
|Offers progestin-only pills?||Yes||Yes||Yes
|Offers emergency contraception (PlanB)?||No||Yes ($50 per use)||Yes ($15 per use)|
|Price with insurance||$30||$0 + CoPay||$0 + CoPay|
|Price without Insurance||$30 / month||$15 / month||$15 consultation,
then $20 for a 3-month supply
|Accepts network health plans (i.e. Kaiser)?||No||No||No|
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Pill Comparison: Hers vs Nurx vs Pill Club
All three offer both combination (estrogen + progestin) and progestin-only pills (POPs). With over 100 different pill options, Pill Club lives up to its name as the supreme leader in choice. Compare that to Nurx’s fairly extensive menu of around 50+ pill options, and Hers with a mere 10. Where they further differ is in their alternative, non-pill options.
Other Types of BC (Offline and Emergency)
An obvious point that’s worth repeating: there are other effective forms of birth control that none of these platforms offer, such as IUDs or implanted contraceptives which need to be administered in a doctor’s office. There’s also a category of birth control called emergency contraception (i.e. PlanB) that isn’t intended for regular use. It’s unique in that you take it after sex to prevent pregnancy. Nurx and the Pill Club offer it, while Hers does not.
How much do online birth control pills cost?
Now that you have a sense of Hers, Nurx, and Pill Club, let’s talk pricing. The cost of online birth control depends widely on the type and brand. It also depends on what your insurance covers, unless you buy from Hers. Their birth control is a flat $30/month, and saves you the hassle of dealing with insurance. Convenient, right? Simply choose one of their 10 pill options, and pay out of pocket.
Although Nurx and Pill Club advertise birth control pills for $0/month, that’s only true if your insurance covers 100% without any co-pay. While Nurx and Pill Club may not charge to deliver your prescription, your insurance likely will. If you don’t have insurance, you can still buy birth control online from Nurx for $15/month. Similarly Pill Club can give you a three-month supply sans insurance for $20 (that’s less than $7/month) plus $15 for the initial consultation fee.
One thing to note: none of the three online birth control providers work with network health plans. Even if you have amazing health insurance through Kaiser, for example, you’ll have to pay Nurx, Hers, or Pill Club as if you didn’t. Unfortunately network health plans require you to fill prescriptions at a pharmacy that’s, well, in their network. It’s a shame they don’t play better together, but at least you know up front.
What is the advantage of getting a prescription online?
Most of us are used to having to go to the OB/GYN to get a prescription. What is the advantage of getting an online doctor’s visit and prescription? Is technology really making our lives easier?
I’d say yes, for the following reasons:
- Online visits are great for women who don’t have health insurance. The cost of the doctors visits and generic BC pills are really reasonable, especially if you don’t have insurance to pay or your doctor’s visit.
- The price of the medicine is very reasonable – again, especially if you don’t have health insurance. And because some of these companies can work with your insurance, you can get the same co-pay that you’d have in a traditional pharamacy.
- Going online saves you a lot of time – you won’t have to take time off work to see your OB, you won’t have to wait in an office for the visit, and much of the visit is completed quickly via online questions. Much faster than going a traditional route.
- Getting your pills delivered directly to your house is much more efficient than going to the pharmacy each month. Let’s be honest – it’s kind of a waste of time. And , if you are like me, you probably end up purchasing some over priced conditioner you don’t really need while you wait in the pharmacy! And while some health insurance companies have mail-order subscriptions available, they are usually a bit of a pain to figure out. These new companies really have figured out how to get women what they need efficiently.
- It’s the future – really, it is. Telemedicine is taking off. The American Medial Association says it’s grew 53% from 2016 to 2017, and the fast growth is likely to continue.
How about the price of alternative forms of birth control?
While Hers only offers birth control pills, the price of Xulane® (3 patches per month) or a NuvaRing® (1 ring per month) on both Nurx and Pill club depend on your insurance coverage. If you’re wondering how much, I’d recommend contacting both.
Nurx vs. Hers vs. Pill Club: The Verdict
At the end of the day, the new crop of online pharmacies have a lot to offer to any woman looking for affordable contraception– traditional or alternative, with insurance or without. Regardless of your situation and personal preferences, Nurx, Hers, and Pill Club likely have the right option for you.
Are these good choices if you don't have insurance?
Getting access to important medication can be way too challenging if you don’t have health insurance. Are these providers good options if you are not lucky enough to be insured?
With low cost, online doctor’s visits and predictable drug costs (that they publish right on their websites!), these online telemedicine providers are pretty much built for women who don’t have insurance.
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Hers: The brand for convenience-seekers
With beautiful branding, a superb web experience, and only $5 to get started, Hers is the ultimate birth control subscription for millennials, or anyone optimizing for convenience. It’s sheer simplicity is likely to win over younger generations who haven’t had to choose their own insurance yet (and therefore have no interest in fussing over the details). With an approachable number of options, the brand seems palatable to those willing to pay a tiny premium for a frictionless customer experience.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Hers is Pill Club, who boasts the widest selection of birth control pills by a mile. That’s great if you’re not looking for generics or are searching for alternatives after experiencing a ton of adverse side effects. But as a younger woman who is just foraying out into the world of contraception, 100+ options isn’t necessarily ideal. On the surface, Pill Club tends to be price competitive depending on the fine print of your insurance plan.
For me, Nurx reigns supreme. It strikes the right balance between simplicity (a la Hers) and variety (a la Pill Club), at an attractive price. At $15/month, Nurx seems like the best option for those without insurance. Full stop. It’s also the only provider to offer the option of birth control in an injectable shot, which wins points for “innovation”. While emergency contraception (PlanB) is quite a bit more expensive on Nurx versus Pill Club, I believe it sends the right signal to women who may otherwise overuse.
Your choice of birth control providers is extremely personal. Know that if you’re self-conscious about getting it in the mail, you’re not alone. Of course, ask your doctor directly if you have questions about your health, side effects, or interplay with other prescriptions. I am not a medical professional myself, but for what it’s worth, ordering birth control from Nurx has been fantastic — you can read our full review here. Now you have the information on these three providers — do what works for you!