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You may be familiar with emergency contraception, commonly referred to as “the morning-after pill” or Plan B. Plan B One-Step is a brand of emergency contraception and, while it’s not the only option, it’s one of the most widely available.

Plan B One-Step is a pill that’s meant to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The sooner you take it, the more effective it is at preventing pregnancy. It’s not intended to be used as birth control. Plan B One-Step is also not an abortion pill and will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Plan B works by temporarily delaying ovulation similar to the mechanism of birth control pills. By delaying the release of an egg from an ovary, there won’t be an egg waiting to meet sperm to be fertilized. Using emergency contraception won’t affect your ability to get pregnant later on.

While you typically need to request it if purchasing at a pharmacy, you do not need a prescription or ID to obtain Plan B.

According to Planned Parenthood, brand-name Plan B One-Step usually costs $40 to $50, though generic options can cost as little as $11.

All versions are essentially the same levonorgestrel hormonal pill. Plan B One-Step is also available on the brand’s website, as well as at discounted rates via GoodRx.

Is Plan B covered by insurance?

If you have insurance or Medicaid, you can often get Plan B for free, though you’ll have to ask a healthcare professional for a prescription so insurance will cover it.

This may put you in a pinch when time is of the essence, but it can be helpful to plan ahead and keep it on hand should an emergency arise.

Can you get Plan B for free?

If you’re insured, you may be able to obtain Plan B for free. But even if you’re not insured, you may be able to receive it for free or at a low cost from Planned Parenthood, your local health department, or other local low-cost clinics.

There are several retail options where you can easily find Plan B.

If you’re ordering online, some retailers, like Amazon and Target, don’t provide options to enter insurance information. This means you’ll have to pay full price.

However, if you obtain a prescription from your healthcare professional and go to an in-person location, you may be able to get it at a lower cost.

You may find generic versions available on other websites, such as Wisp. You can also purchase it ahead of time through telehealth platforms, like Nurx, though you’ll need a prescription.

RetailerAccepts insurance?CostFree options?
Amazonnoaround $38no
Targetnoaround $48no
Walgreensnoaround $50no
RiteAidnoaround $48no
Walmartnoaround $37no
Nurxyesdepends on insurance coverageyes
Wispno$17 for one, $30 for two, $40 for threeno
Pandia Healthyes$64 per pack without insurance, free with insuranceyes

Taking Plan B is fairly straightforward: You take one tablet by mouth within 72 hours of having unprotected sex (the sooner, the better).

When to take Plan B

You must take Plan B within 72 hours of having unprotected sex in order for it to be effective.

Despite being commonly referred to as the “morning-after pill,” you don’t actually need to wait until the next morning if you have sex at night.

If you have access to Plan B already, take it immediately. The sooner you take it, the more effective it will be at preventing pregnancy.

While Plan B can be taken at any point within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, it’s more effective the sooner you take it. It’s most preferable that you take it within 12 hours of unprotected sex, and it’s 95 percent effective if taken within 24 hours.

If taken between 48 and 72 hours after unprotected sex, that efficacy rate goes down to 61 percent.

Plan B One-Step isn’t the only emergency contraception option available. Here are some others to consider.

Paragard

While it’s more commonly known as a method of long-acting reversible contraception that can be used for up to 10 years, the copper intrauterine device (IUD) known as Paragard can also be used as emergency contraception if inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex.

A copper IUD is actually more effective than the morning-after pill, as it reduces the risk of pregnancy by 99 percent, both when used as emergency contraception and as regular birth control.

However, you’ll need to visit a healthcare professional to have it inserted.

ella

Ella is a single, oral dose of emergency contraception that should be taken within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. This pill is ulipristal acetate and is only available with a prescription.

Next Choice

Similar to Plan B One-Step, Next Choice is a levonorgestrel (progestin-only) pill. A pack will include one or two pills.

You should take the first as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected sex and, if you’re taking a second pill, it should be taken 12 hours later.

If you haven’t gotten your period within 3 weeks of having unprotected sex and taking Plan B on time, you should take a home pregnancy test and visit your doctor to confirm whether you’re pregnant.

Why does Plan B cost so much?

Plan B is generally more expensive than other morning-after pill options, because it’s the brand-name version. Some stores and telehealth platforms offer generic Plan B, which may be less expensive.

Is Plan B free over the counter?

You can often get Plan B for free if you have insurance or Medicaid. You may also be able to get it for free at Planned Parenthood or other low-cost clinics in your area.

Are there any Plan B generic options?

There are several generic versions of Plan B, including:

  • Take Action
  • My Way
  • Option 2
  • Preventeza
  • My Choice
  • Aftera
  • EContra

All of these options typically cost less than the branded version.

How often can you take Plan B?

While there’s no limit as to how often you can take it, it’s not recommended to substitute Plan B for birth control. This is because it’s generally less effective than actual contraceptive methods.

While Plan B One-Step can be a valuable tool if you have unprotected sex and do not wish to become pregnant, it’s important to be educated on how it works and how to take it.

Do not use Plan B One-Step as a substitute for birth control, and talk with a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns before or after taking it.