The provincial government announced recently that a number of prescription contraceptives will be covered under its BC PharmaCare program, with the change having come into effect on Saturday (April 1).
Provincial funding totalling over $100 million over three years will ensure that 60 different commonly used types of birth control are free to British Columbians with a prescription, including some birth control pills, injections, IUDs, implants, and ‘morning after’ pills. After receiving a prescription from a doctor, nurse practitioner, or walk-in clinic, those accessing their prescriptions will only need their BC Services Card.
“This will make it easier for people to access prescription contraceptives and is a milestone for gender equity in B.C. as costs will no longer be a barrier for people to make choices about their reproductive and sexual health,” reads a statement by the province.
“Once the prescription is presented at a pharmacy, along with the BC Services Card, the pharmacist will fill the prescription and the pharmacy will be directly reimbursed by BC PharmaCare, resulting in no charge to a person with a prescription.”
The province said that people living in B.C. generally pay up to $25 a month for hormonal pills, or up to $300 a year. For hormonal injections and longer lasting IUD, the cost can increase quickly. While not all types of contraceptives are covered under the new funding, 60 commonly used types are free, and many more are partially covered.
B.C. is the first Canadian province to introduce such funding, with the announcement coming as a part of last month’s 2023 provincial budget. Finance Minister Katrine Conroy called the announcement a ‘win’ for both health and gender equity in B.C.
“Through the B.C. Ministry of Health, the Province is funding more than $119 million over the next three years to provide coverage for eligible prescription contraception, including oral hormone pills, a contraceptive injection, hormonal and copper IUDs, a subdermal implant, and levonorgestrel, also known as the morning-after pill,” continued the statement.
“Universal coverage of prescription contraceptives means that people will face fewer obstacles in taking charge of their reproductive health. Providing universal coverage of contraception supports government’s commitment to make health care more affordable and accessible for people in British Columbia.”
A number of advocacy groups have pushed for universal contraceptive coverage on a federal level, with the news of B.C.’s funding renewing calls for Ottawa to take action on the issue.
For more information on the types of contraceptives covered under the new funding, visit https://bit.ly/3m3fG9L.