The Quest for Free Birth Control: Part 2

I called my OBGYN today, and talked to a very helpful nurse.  She said that Norethindrone-Ethinyl Estradiol is not as nice as Generess Fe, and asked me if some other pills were on the list.  She ended up putting me on Apri, which is apparently very cheap normally anyway, and is indeed on the list.

So, I drove over to CVS, and it rang up as $0.00!  Success at last!

It seems to me like a major problem is a lack of communication on this matter between insurance companies, doctors, and patients.  I’m sure most of that is just because the Affordable Healthcare Act is so new.  Here’s what I’d recommend to anyone looking to get themselves some free slut pills birth control:

1. Talk to your insurance provider.  Call ’em up or go on their website.  Get your hands on a list of what birth controls they can get you copay-free.  Note that this will mean you’ll have to switch to a generic brand, if you’re not on one already.

2. Take the list with you to your doctor’s appointment.  Your doctor will be able to talk to you about what birth control suits your needs or is most similar to what you’re already on.  Doctors tend to have a good idea of how expensive different types of birth control are, but, again, since the Affordable Healthcare Act is so new, they probably will not be able to tell you what will be free off the top of their heads, so it’s a good idea to have the list available for reference.

3. Get yo’self some free oral contraceptives.  They taste like victory.

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The Quest for Free Birth Control

Like many women out there, I was under the impression that once the birth control mandate went into effect, Obama was going to show up at my door every month with a pack of free birth control and a bouquet of roses.  BUT OH HOW WRONG I WAS.

When I first found out that there was still a high copay on my birth control, I poked around on the internet.  Full disclosure: I know nothing about health insurance.  I am lucky enough to still be on my parents’ plan.  I found that the free birth control thing only applied to plans that were formed or renewed after August 1, 2012.  I asked my mother and discovered that my plan didn’t renew until the first of the new year, so I stopped worrying.

Today, I went in to ask about getting a refill, and was told that this month’s supply would cost the same as last month’s.  I accepted this.  My birth control is called Generess Fe, which I had assumed was the generic brand, as my OBGYN gave it to me alongside some LoLoestrin Fe, which I assumed was the non-generic, though I noticed some differences between them (LoLoestrin has two different types of pills plus the reminder pills, while Generess just has the one type plus the reminder.  Also, Generess is chewable.).  I really like it.  It’s a good one.

I went home and once again attempted to find a website that could explain to me why I couldn’t get this pill copay-free, and I found this very helpful graphic:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/annanorth/can-you-get-copay-free-birth-control

According to that graphic, I should be able to get this for free.

So my mother and I called the insurance company.  He said that Generess Fe is not on the list of things that are covered through our plan, and said he’d email us the list.  He never did, but I eventually managed to find it on the insurance website.  He’s right, Generess Fe is not on the list, but Norethindrone-Ethinyl Estradiol, which is the main drug of Generess Fe (minus the iron).  My mom decided that Generess Fe must not be the generic, so I called up CVS to request the generic, and had the following conversation:

Me: Hi, I was in there a couple hours ago to renew a prescription, and I’d like to switch to the generic.
Pharmacist: (after getting my information)  That is the generic.
Me: Okay, well, I was just on the phone with the health insurance company, and according to this list, a form of that drug should be covered under Obamacare.
Pharmacist: It is covered, it’s just a high copay.
Me: Yeah, I should be able to get it with no copay.
Pharmacist: I don’t understand what you want.  As far as I’m aware, the Obama health insurance didn’t actually have an effect on any of this.
Me: Actually, the birth control mandate went into effect on August 1st for new plans, and since my insurance plan renewed at the beginning of the year, I should be able to get this for free.
Pharmacist: It is covered, though.  This went through your insurance.  There’s a difference between “covered” and “copay”.

I didn’t like the way he was talking to me, so I said “uh huh” a lot until he hung up.  My mom and I called the insurance company again.

Insurance Lady: Generess Fe isn’t the generic.
My Mom: Then what is?
Lady: There is no generic equivalent.
Mom: Okay, but Norethindrone-Ethinyl Estradiol is on your list.
Lady: But Generess Fe isn’t.
Mom: Right.  So how do we get Norethindrone-Ethinyl Estradiol?
Lady: There is no generic for Generess Fe.
Mom: …then why is the generic name for it on your list?
Lady: Let me pull up the list.  Okay, Norethindrone-Ethinyl Estradiol isn’t all of Generess Fe.  You’d need a new prescription.
Mom: Then let’s do that.

Of course, all of this took about half an hour, and by the time I looked up the OBGYN’s number, I discovered that they close early on Fridays, so I was 15 minutes too late.  They’re gone until Monday, and I told CVS I’d pick up the Generess Fe tomorrow, so my mom wanted to cancel the refill until we talk to the doctor.  I made her call CVS back, because I did not want to talk to that pharmacist.  He apparently gave her a hard time about it.

So, I’ll resume this saga on Monday.  Allow me to sum up by saying: this is ridiculous.  I have yet to hear of anyone who has successfully gotten an oral contraceptive with no copay.  What the fuck.