Birth Control, And Other Meds You Can Get Off An App These Days
This post is reprinted from my blog, https://thenopantslife.com/, on issues and news surrounding remote work arrangements and the location-independent lifestyle.
As the title suggests, I just got birth control off an app.
Without needing to provide existing prescription information.
Yes, Virginia, there is a birth control fairy, and it’s called the interwebs.
Why is this on-topic? Because I assume many remote workers might (1) be freelancers who might not have health insurance, or (2) not live near a major metropolitan area (like me), or (3) on-the-go and traveling much of the time, and in need of a quick script to troubleshoot a health issue.
Birth control pills ain’t the only meds you can get off your smartphone with a flick of your fingers. Think of health issues like sinus infections and stuff, so don’t get excited — none of these apps will hook you up with the kinds of meds you crushed up back when you had that job on the trading desk.
Here’s how it worked. I downloaded Lemonaid onto my smartphone, inputted some basic biographical information (the most intrusive piece of info was recent blood pressure results), uploaded a photo of my drivers’ license and insurance card, selected my pharmacy, and picked which birth control pill I preferred. I also had to fill out a basic health questionnaire, but nothing as annoying as the forms that doctors’ offices make you fill out.
Within a couple of hours (this is a Saturday) a doctor messaged me back through the app saying that, based on the information I provided, it was appropriate to prescribe me the pill I selected and that the prescription has been sent to my pharmacy. BAM! Hooray interwebs!
They also provided a link to the “Treatment Plan”, which shows you how to take the medicine, any contra-indications, and all that other back-of-the-package stuff.
There are at least five birth control apps and websites floating around in the app-verse purporting to be the Lyft of Birth Control at this time (I hesitate to call these the Ubers of Birth Control in light of that company’s sexism problems being contra to the general pro-female nature of this article, though I still keep Uber on my phone for use overseas, where Lyft doesn’t yet have a presence other than through alliances with local car-hailing apps).
Let’s do a roll call:
Lemonaid: This is the one I ended up using. Along with birth control pills, Lemonaid also provides medication for UTIs, acne, hair loss, erectile dysfunction, flu, sinus infections, and acid reflux. They promise a turnaround time of two hours during business hours (Pacific Time) and are operational in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington. Doctors will write you a prescription based on an online questionnaire (a common theme) and will charge you $15 for the service.
At 12:17 I got my “welcome to Lemonaid” message, at 2:01 I got my “thank you for submitting your health information” message, and my prescription got approved at 5:10. On Belmont Saturday, nonetheless. OK, there wasn’t a Triple Crown at stake (unlike in 2015, when American Psycho became the first horse to return all the videotapes since Affirmed in ’78) but it’s still a Saturday in June.
NuRX (pronounced new-Rx): This app is birth-control focused, and is available in California, New York, Washington, DC, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas. The Ring and the Patch are also available through NuRX, and they will also deliver your medication to your door. I went with Lemonaid because NuRX could not promise less than a 24-hour turnaround time during weekends. It also seemed like women over 35 could only be eligible for progestin-only pills over the app.
You can also obtain PrEP through NuRX.
Prjkt Ruby: For $20/month, you can select from a suite of 10 different pills. For each month of birth control you order, 25 cents will be donated to help women in developing countries gain contraceptive access. Video consultations with doctors are available for patients in Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.
Virtuwell: A website purporting to be a “24/7 online clinic”, Virtuwell treats various common conditions such as flu, pinkeye, sinus infections, cold and cough, yeast infections, bladder infections, ear infections, various allergies (pet allergies, seasonal allergies), and birth control. They charge $45 or less per virtual “visit”. Note that they only provide birth control prescriptions for patients between 18 and 34.
Maven: According to Fortune, Maven wants to turn every woman’s phone into a healthcare clinic. You need to book a video consultation, but you can choose between a nurse practitioner, nutritionist, doctor, or mental health professional (props to Maven for addressing mental health in its app). They also offer on-demand health services, including birth control prescriptions and mental health services, for college women and a Maven Enterprise program tailored for businesses seeking to address the healthcare concerns of their employees.
I am NOT A DOCTOR, nor do I play one on television. So, please, consult your in-person doctor (or, have a videoconference with one via one of the above apps) before trying a brand-new type of medication. To play it safe, you might want to stick to using the apps for obtaining online refills for medications that you know work for you.