For years now, people have been able to use the internet to buy the types of birth control typically found in the aisles of a pharmacy, like condoms and spermicide. Now there’s a pioneering project making prescription birth control accessible online. It’s called PRJKT RUBY, and it lets women (ages 18 and up) order the pill, mini-pill, and ella emergency contraception online without having to physically visit a health care provider.
Here’s how it works
Anyone interested in ordering one of these methods can go to PRJKT RUBY, click on “order now,” and create an account. The next step is to pick a preferred method or get help from the PRJKT RUBY providers to pick a method. You have to fill out a health survey and read some warnings, then provide shipping and billing information. Finally, a provider reviews your health survey and decides whether to write a prescription.
Et voila! Once the prescription is written, a discrete envelope marked “Personal” is sent straight to your door. For the pill and mini-pill, they ship three packs at a time. For women who don’t know their blood pressure when they sign up, they may still be able to get a first order. To set up recurring orders for a year’s worth of pill packs, a blood pressure reading is required. Recurring orders are billed to a credit card on file, and shipped once every three months.
Sounds good… What’s the catch?
The pill and mini-pill cost $20 per pack through PRJKT RUBY, and ella is $60. Those prices are okay, but not necessarily the cheapest, especially for insured folks who can get birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. PRJKT RUBY doesn’t accept health insurance payments, though they hope to be able to eventually. If you don’t have health insurance or live a long way from the nearest free clinic, ordering birth control online may end up being more affordable than going to see a health care provider.
Five U.S. states don’t allow online prescribing, so for the moment, folks living in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, or Iowa won’t be able to use PRJKT RUBY to order birth control. And if you're under age 18, you can't use PRJKT RUBY at the moment. They are working on setting up online orders for women under age 18 in states where that’s okay, but not all states will allow this.
What’s that about a good cause?
In 2015, every pack of pills purchased from PRJKT RUBY will be matched with a 25 cent donation to PSI. Sounds like not much money, right? Believe it or not, a quarter can buy a pack of pills in a developing country. PSI helps providers in over 30 developing countries offer the pill and many other methods of birth control to women.
The project just got started, but in the future they plan to report how many women got birth control thanks to the donations. We'll keep an ear out for new developments and share them here!