Birth control app launches in Illinois, offers birth control without a prescription or insurance

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GALESBURG, Illinois - A new birth control app has launched in Illinois.

The app, Nurx, is a telemedicine startup based in San Francisco, California and launched in Illinois on February 7, 2017. The app is designed to help women get birth control without a prescription and without insurance.

According to Hans Gangeskar, Co-Founder of Nurx, patients register for free online, fill out a medical questionnaire, then the request is sent to a licensed medical provider. If the request is approved, the birth control method of choice is shipped to the patient for free.

In most insurance cases, the birth control is free. If a patient doesn't have insurance, they pay for the cost of the medication itself which can be as low as $15 depending on the method, according to the Nurx.com website.

The app is also designed to reach women in rural areas where access to birth control can be limited.

Erika Riley is a sophomore at Knox College in Galesburg and uses the app. She says her busy schedule can make going to the doctor for birth control refills difficult. She's been using the service for over a month and says it's an easier way to get birth control.

"You don't have to worry about refilling it. With the app, it automatically sends it [birth control] to you in the mail for free," said Riley. "For places that are really rural, it would help a lot to be able to get it straight to your mailbox and you wouldn't have to worry about going to the doctor."

Some doctors not involved in Nurx say getting birth control without seeing a doctor first could have potential side effects. Dr. Tara Baum, MD, FACOG, board certified OB/GYN at Galesburg Cottage Hospital says patients need that personal conversation with a doctor before starting any birth control.

"The main thing we worry about in hormonal birth control is the increased risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. There are a lot of different types of birth control out there and you have to find the one that's right for you. It's all the more reason to discuss that with a physician," said Dr. Baum.

In more than 100 countries around the world, women are able to access birth control over the counter. But, that's not the case in the United States.

"I think it's really important for women to have access to birth control especially right now where it feels like it keeps getting harder," added Riley.

If congress repeals the Affordable Care Act, the app promises to still help patients get birth control without paying to see a doctor.

The app is also available in California, New York, D.C., Washington and Pennsylvania.

It hopes to expand to Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri next.