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Plan B is a reliable form of emergency contraception.

If you’re sexually active, you may be familiar with the concept of emergency contraception (EC). Commonly referred to as “the morning-after pill” or Plan B, EC should be taken within 72 hours of having penis-in-vagina (P-in-V) sex without a form of contraception or with a form of contraception that failed.

Plan B One-Step is one of the most popular brand names of EC. While it’s not the only option, it’s widely available.

In this article, we discuss how EC works, where to get it, how much it costs, and more.

Plan B One-Step is a type of EC that’s meant to be taken within 72 hours of having sex. It’s more effective at preventing pregnancy the sooner you take it.

EC pills, such as Plan B, are not intended to be used as birth control. They’re not forms of the abortion pill and will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Using EC also won’t affect your ability to get pregnant later on.

Plan B’s purpose is to temporarily delay ovulation. This is similar to how birth control pills work. It postpones the release of an egg from an ovary, so no egg is waiting to meet sperm for fertilization.

Plan B is most effective the sooner you take it after having sex. According to Planned Parenthood, it can lower your chance of becoming pregnant by 75 to 89 percent if taken within the 72-hour window.

While it can be taken at any point within 5 days of having P-in-V sex, it’s most preferable that you take it within the first 3 days.

It’s also important to know that Plan B may be less effective if you weigh more than 155 pounds or have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30. You can still take Plan B, but a 2011 study found that pregnancy risk was 3 times higher.

We chose the following options for obtaining Plan B for a few different reasons.

Primarily, we thought it was important that all of the retailers and services on our list were fast and efficient. In addition to being discreet alternatives to buying Plan B at an in-person pharmacy, these options also allow you to stock up in advance and potentially lower your cost with insurance or a prescription.

Other factors taken into account include:

  • cost
  • whether or not they accept insurance
  • customer service

There are several retailers that allow you to purchase Plan B, including stores and online retailers. However, some of these options don’t provide options to enter insurance information, meaning you’ll have to pay full price.

While you typically need to request EC from a pharmacy if you’re purchasing it in-store, you do not need a prescription or ID to obtain Plan B. Getting a prescription, however, may help you get Plan B at a lower cost if purchased in person.

Generic versions, like My Choice and New Day, also tend to be cheaper, and you can often find them on telehealth sites, such as Wisp. Other platforms, like Nurx, allow you to purchase it ahead of time, though this requires a prescription.

Below are our top picks for the best places to get Plan B.

Best if you have insurance

Pandia Health

  • Cost: free with insurance, $53 without insurance

Through Pandia Health, an online birth control service, Plan B costs $53 per pack without insurance and is free with insurance. It also offers generic brands My Way, AfterPill, and EContra EZ.

You’ll need a prescription to purchase it, but you can receive that through the service. If you have an active prescription, you can fulfill it through the site.

To sign up and receive a prescription through the platform, you’ll have to fill out an online health form and pay a $20 consultation fee. A doctor will then review your information and Pandia Health will send it straight to your doorstep.

Pandia Health also offers free delivery.

Best value

Wisp

  • Cost: $17 for one pill, $30 for two, $40 for three

If you’re planning on paying out of pocket, Wisp, a telehealth and medication platform, is the best option for stocking up on multiple doses of generic Plan B.

When ordered, the medication will be delivered within 3 to 5 days, so it’s not a good option for emergency cases. Instead, ordering from Wisp is best if you’d like to have Plan B on hand.

Wisp also offers ella, another form of EC, for same-day delivery, although you need a prescription for it. Note that, unlike other options on our list, Wisp doesn’t supply prescriptions for EC.

Best for generic Plan B

Nurx

  • Cost: as low as $0 with insurance, as low as $20 without insurance

It’s easy to order New Day, a generic form of Plan B, from Nurx.

The medication management platform accepts various forms of insurance to bring your cost down to $0, though your copay will vary depending on your coverage. However, you don’t need a prescription to place your order.

The platform also offers free shipping and unlimited messaging for 1 year with licensed providers. In some states, you may be able to receive overnight shipping.

Best drugstore option

Target

  • Cost: $47.49

Target is an easy option to get Plan B, regardless of whether it’s in-person or online.

While you can’t enter insurance information online, you can call your local store to find out if you can obtain it at no additional cost. However, you’ll need a prescription from a health professional.

If you don’t have time to receive a prescription, you can purchase it either in-store or with same-day shipping for the flat fee of around $50.

Accepts insurance?CostPrescription needed?Free options?
Pandia Healthyes$53 per pack without insurance, free with insuranceyesyes
Wispno$17 for one, $30 for two, $40 for threenono
Nurxyesdepends on insurance coveragenoyes
Targetnot online (but does accept insurance if you shop in-store via the pharmacy)around $50not onlineno

Deciding where to purchase Plan B can depend on your individual situation.

If you’re stocking up ahead of time, it’s best to do some research to find an affordable option or, if you have insurance, a free option that accepts insurance.

If you need Plan B as soon as possible, you’ll want to opt for the quickest option. That may be through an online retailer that offers overnight or same-day shipping or at a pharmacy or store in person.

If you want to remain discreet, you may find that an online option is a better bet.

Like hormonal birth control and other medications, Plan B can cause side effects.

Some of the most common ones include:

  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • fatigue

Some people may also experience breast or chest tenderness and menstrual cycle changes, such as heavier, lighter, or irregular bleeding.

Plan B isn’t the only option for EC. Below are a few other options.

Next Choice

Next Choice is a levonorgestrel (progestin-only) pill, just like Plan B. However, a pack of Next Choice includes either one or two pills.

You should take the first pill as soon as possible, within 72 hours of P-in-V sex, and if the package comes with a second pill, it should be taken 12 hours after you take the first pill.

ella

Ella is another EC option. Similar to Plan B, it’s a single pill dose. However, ella can be taken within 5 days of P-in-V sex, unlike Plan B, which has a 3-day window. Ella is a form of ulipristal acetate and requires a prescription.

Ella may also be a better option if you’re in a larger body. It’s found to be more effective than Plan B in people who have a BMI over 30.

Paragard

Paragard is a copper intrauterine device (IUD) that’s one of the most effective methods of long-acting reversible contraception.

Not only can it be used for up to 10 years, but it can also be used as a method of EC if it’s inserted within 5 days of having P-in-V sex.

It’s also more effective than Plan B, reducing the risk of pregnancy by 99 percent, regardless of whether it’s being used as EC or as birth control.

Take Action

Take Action is a generic form of levonorgestrel EC that’s equally as effective as Plan B. The only real difference is that Take Action is slightly less expensive, as is the case with most generic versions of any medication.

If you took Plan B on time and haven’t gotten your period within 3 weeks of having P-in-V sex, you should take a home pregnancy test. You should also visit a doctor to confirm if you’re pregnant.

Do you need an ID to buy Plan B?

Since Plan B has no age restrictions on who can buy it, you do not need to show a form of identification to get it.

Can you purchase Plan B over the counter?

Plan B has been available to people of any age since 2013. In many cases, you’ll still have to request it from a pharmacy counter.

While not required, having a prescription may help get it covered by insurance.

Can you get Plan B for free without insurance?

You can often get Plan B for free if you’re on Medicaid. Additionally, you may also be able to get it for free at Planned Parenthood or other low-cost healthcare clinics in your area.

There are many different options when it comes to obtaining Plan B or other forms of EC. Many retailers offer them at a relatively low cost, with or without insurance.

By researching your options and educating yourself on how to properly take it, you can ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance at efficacy.


Emilia Benton is a freelance writer and editor based in Houston, Texas. She’s also a nine-time marathoner, avid baker, and frequent traveler.