A new app called NURX provides birth control to women without a trip to the doctor’s office.
NURX is coming on the scene in more states as the future of the Affordable Care Act remains uncertain. It’s currently available in New York state, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Washington state and California.
New users can choose their own preferred contraceptive option or they can chat with a NURX doctor by using the app.
The app offers oral contraceptive that local pharmacies stock, according to its website. The birth control skin patch and the vaginal ring are also available through NURX.
“I think it’s really going to be a game changer,” said Dr. Renee Mestad, Clinical Assistant Professor at Upstate University Hospital. “Particularly as contraceptive coverage is going to be variable from state to state and co-pays are going to be the biggest problems for a lot of women and getting access to their physicians or their providers.”
Nurx is free in most cases, if you have health insurance, according to its site. Standard co-pays will apply if you use your insurance but if you pay out of pocket, there are options as low as $15 per month.
Nurx will deliver your birth control to your doorstep within two days of your order eing approved.
Mestad says that some women who live in rural areas around New York state could find it difficult to get access to birth control because of a shortage of health care provider options or proximity to a pharmacy that carries contraceptives.
“Co-pays can be a problem,” Mestad explained. “Office co-pays to see a physician when you’re basically healthy otherwise and having to pay the co-pay which can be difficult for some women that is also another barrier.”
Plus, Mestad says a woman’s busy schedule could also preclude her from being able to make annual exams most doctors require in order for a birth control prescription to be refilled, which can lead to interruptions in a contraceptive routine.
“I ran out of refills before I realized it,” said Tara Staab, 28. “I couldn’t get anymore refills until l went back in for my yearly exam and there was probably a week’s time that lapsed between the two prescriptions between when my OB could get me in and between my work schedule.”
While Staab prefers to continue seeing a doctor face-to-face, she says a digital option like NURX is a good thing.
“I definitely think it should be readily available to all women all the time,” Staab said. “I think it’s a great idea as long as it doesn’t replace traditional medicine. I think it is a great option for people especially if it increased the utilization of contraceptives.”
The app’s founders say the service is not replacing doctor visits.
Some women will still need to see a doctor regularly. Dr. Mestad says this is recommended for women who use birth control and also have health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.