Imagine Being Able to Get a Year’s Worth of Birth Control at Once

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Photo: Jamie Grill/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

California pharmacists have been able to prescribe birth control directly to women since April, and, beginning in 2017, they’ll be able to dole out one year’s worth of pills, patches, or rings at a time.

The state previously limited pharmacists to dispensing no more than 3 months’ worth at a time, even though prescriptions are typically written for a 12-month supply. Many insurance plans limit pharmacy pickup to 30 days of a prescription; any quantity higher than that is handled by a mail-order service. Senate Bill 999 will require insurers to cover the full year at once.

The legislation is designed to improve access to birth control and thereby help reduce rates of unintended pregnancy. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco have found that California women given 12-month supplies have 30 percent fewer unintended pregnancies than women who have to refill their prescriptions every 30 or 90 days. An analysis of the legislation found that it would save employers and the state government money plus lead to fewer abortions. Here’s hoping other states take notice.