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California Attorney General Bonta Issues Consumer Alert Reminding Californians of Their Right to Access Free or Low-Cost Birth Control

OAKLAND  California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert reminding California residents of their right to access free or low-cost birth control. As states across the country take unprecedented steps to roll back reproductive freedom, California remains committed to expanding access to contraception and defending your right to control your reproductive choices. Today’s consumer alert outlines your rights with regard to birth control and answers frequently asked questions.

“California is a reproductive freedom state through and through — that means giving people the tools to take charge of their bodies and their future,” said Attorney General Bonta. “As anti-choice states across the nation move to restrict abortion and sow confusion about access to contraception, California is forging ahead. If you live in California, you have access to free or low-cost family planning. I encourage all California residents to review today’s consumer alert and take charge of your reproductive rights.”

If you are a California resident, you have options for free or low-cost birth control, regardless of immigration status. Your rights to free or low-cost birth control have not changed since the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Your Rights to Birth Control 

  • You have the right to choose to have or not to have a child. You have the right to choose or refuse birth control.
  • If you have health insurance through an employer, most plans cover the following services. If you have Covered California, all plans cover the following services.
    • Up to a 12-month supply of FDA-approved birth control, including the ring, patch, or oral birth control pills, dispensed at one time, for free.
  • If you do not have health insurance, or if you do not use your insurance, you still can obtain, for cost, self-administered hormonal birth control from a pharmacist, without a prescription. To locate a participating pharmacist in your area visit birthcontrolpharmacies.com.

You May Be Entitled to Free Birth Control if You are on Medi-Cal or Have Low-Income

  • If you are on Medi-Cal, you can receive free birth control through your plan, through any Medi-Cal provider. 
  • If you are an individual or household with low income, but do not qualify for Medi-Cal, you may be eligible for free birth control through the Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment Plan (Family PACT) program. 

If You Are Under 18, You Can Obtain Birth Control Without Parental Consent

  • Health care providers cannot inform your parent or legal guardian that you receive birth control, unless you agree to share that information. California law requires schools to excuse students during the school day for reproductive and sexual health services, and the school cannot inform your parent or guardian.

Frequently Asked Questions

I earn a low income. What are my options for birth control?

If you have health insurance through Covered California or Medi-Cal, you’re covered! You have the right to get any FDA-approved method of birth control, without any cost to you. That means you cannot be charged any co-pays or cost sharing.   

If you have health insurance through your employer/spouse/parent, your options depend on the kind of health plan. You will need to contact your plan to find out. If your plan does not cover birth control without cost-sharing or co-pays, California’s Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment Plan (Family PACT) may be an option for you. Please visit theFamilyPACT.org website to see if you are eligible.

What birth control methods are FDA-approved?  

The FDA has approved several different methods of birth control. You can choose the method that is right for you. Approved methods include: intrauterine devices (IUDs), implantable rods, contraceptive injection, combination oral contraceptives, progestin-only oral contraceptives, patch, vaginal contraceptive ring, diaphragm, sponge, cervical cap, emergency contraception, and sterilization.

What if my health plan denies me or charges me for birth control?

You can contact the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit to file a complaint. Consumer Complaint Against A Business/Company | State of California - Department of Justice - Office of the Attorney General

There are also programs available to assist you with obtaining birth control:

  • The Title X Family Planning Clinic Locator provides information about clinics that offer a broad range of family planning and preventative health services.
  • TeenSource.org features accurate and reliable information about STDs, birth control, healthy relationships, and teen rights to accessing sensitive services in California. 

What are my rights to sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and related services?

  • If you have health insurance through an employer, most plans cover the following services. If you have Covered California, all plans cover the following services.
    • Free STI prevention counseling and at-home STI test kits
    • Free HIV and other STI screening, if you are age 18-65, at increased risk, or pregnant
    • Free pre-exposure, prophylaxis (PrEP) HIV prevention medication, if you are at high risk for getting HIV through sex or injection drug use
  • If you are on Medi-Cal, you have access to any of the above services.
  • If you are over 12 years old, you can obtain STI testing and treatment without parental consent.

 A copy of the consumer alert is available here.