San Francisco Health Plan Subsidizes Pharmacist Consultation Fee for Emergency Contraception
In an effort to increase access to emergency contraception for low-income women, the San Francisco Health Plan has become the first community health plan in California to subsidize the $20 pharmacist consultation fee required for non-prescription EC purchases, the San Francisco Examiner reports. California law allows the purchase of emergency contraception, which can help prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, without a doctor's prescription in pharmacies, although women must pay for a private consultation with a pharmacist before they can receive the pills. "For a lower-income family who may struggle to make ends meet, an unintended pregnancy can adversely change their lives. Having complete access to EC is a simple, obvious solution," Dr. Karen Smith, medical director of SFHP, said. The decision to subsidize the consultation fee came after a "barrage" of EC awareness campaigns launched by family planning groups in the spring. In May, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate offered free EC to women in the Bay Area (Sanders, San Francisco Examiner, 8/1). Dian Harrison, CEO of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, said, "We are happy to see organizations like SFHP go out of their way to increase their members' access to family planning tools like EC. We know that removing the burden of the additional counseling fee enables lower-income women to more easily obtain EC and take an important step toward reducing unintended pregnancies." SFHP began to subsidize the consultation fee on Aug. 1 at pharmacies in the health plan's network that have pharmacists certified to offer EC (SFHP release, 7/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.