OTC Birth Control Is Coming Soon — But Coverage Could Be Tricky

This summer, Opill (norgestrel) became the first over-the-counter (OTC) daily contraceptive pill approved by the FDA, and it’s slated to hit the U.S. market in early 2024. However, Opill’s OTC designation — which on the surface would seem to increase access to birth control — may have the opposite effect for patients seeking reimbursement from their health plans, experts said during a recent KFF web event.

“Having over-the-counter contraceptives is definitely a positive step,” said Christine Gilroy, M.D., chief medical officer of The Cigna Group’s PBM, Express Scripts. “I am concerned, though, that while it removes the barrier of needing to pay for a physician visit and get a prescription from the physician…in order to be processed against a pharmacy benefit, it does need to be entered into a system that essentially turns it into a prescription.”

© 2024 MMIT
Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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