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San Francisco Health Plan Increases Access to Emergency Contraception

Following recent efforts to raise public awareness and increase accessibility of emergency contraception (EC), the San Francisco Health Plan (SFHP) has become the first community health program in California to subsidize the required pharmacist consultation fee for EC. Although California is one of two states where EC is available without a prescription, pharmacists are still required to give a consultation on its usage.

EC may prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. Introduced to the US market five years ago, EC has the potential to reduce an estimated 1.5 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Unfortunately, EC usage has been low: “Unlike Viagra, which Congress got behind, there really wasn’t that push for EC,” said SFHP Medical Director Dr. Karen Smith.

Smith applauds SFHP’s decision, which will require the insurance group to pay the $20 pharmacist consultation fee for the $30 drug. “For a lower-income family who may struggle to make ends meet, an unintended pregnancy can adversely change their lives,” said Dr. Smith. “Having complete access to emergency contraception is a simple, obvious solution.”

The Feminist Majority Foundation has launched a nationwide campaign to make EC available over-the-counter throughout the US and to mainstream access to the pills on college campuses. To learn more, visit www.PrescribeChoice.org.

Sources:

Kaisernetwork.org 8/5/02; San Francisco Examiner 8/1/02; Planned Parenthood Federation of America EC Fact Sheet 8/6/02