Information for pharmacists about ACCESS to birth control and emergency contraception

If you are a pharmacist who dispenses birth control or emergency contraception, learn about the ACCESS law in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Birth control supply

  • ACCESS, a Massachusetts law, means eligible patients can be prescribed and receive 12 months of birth control at one time, with no deductible, copayment or coinsurance, after an initial three months on the same prescription birth control.
    • The law covers a 12-month supply of the pill, patches, rings, or injectable birth control.
    • Health insurance plans must cover at least one contraceptive drug, device or other product within each FDA-approved contraceptive method category with no form of step therapy or prior authorization.
  • To be eligible, patients must be on a health insurance plan that is subject to Massachusetts law and complete a three-month trial of the same prescription birth control if they have not been on it already.
    • Plans subject to Massachusetts law include fully insured health insurance plans, like MassHealth and those purchased on the MA Health Connector, as well as plans purchased through the MA Group Insurance Commission (GIC). Patients can find out if they are on an eligible health insurance plan by contacting their health insurance company.
  • According to a market research survey conducted in January 2022, 86% of eligible people polled are interested in receiving a 12-month supply of birth control at one time, but only half were aware that this is an option for them. *
    • A 12-month supply means fewer gaps in patient care and contraceptive coverage.

Emergency contraception

    As of August 4, 2022, pharmacists can dispense emergency contraception pills through the statewide standing order, pursuant to chapter 127 of the acts of 2022, An Act Expanding Protections for Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care.
  • According to the ACCESS law, eligible patients can receive FDA-approved emergency contraception at no cost when billed through insurance. Patients without a prescription from their clinician can receive emergency contraception pills through the statewide standing order at the pharmacy. 
    • This not only includes levonorgestrel (e.g., Plan B One-Step®, Next Choice™, My Way®, etc.), but also ulipristal acetate (ella®) which is more effective for people that weigh over 165 pounds and can be used up to five days after unprotected sex.
  • According to a market research survey conducted in January 2022, 84% of eligible people who learned about getting emergency contraception at no cost were more likely to get it. * 

More resources

  • The MA Department of Public Health launched an online course on ACCESS with the MGH Institute of Health Professions. This course offers 2.5 continuing education credits at no cost for MA physicians, nurse practitioners, physician associates, and pharmacists. Enroll at   
  • Pharmacists may not know about ACCESS and its benefits. A recent published study showed that 100% of pharmacists interviewed had received no training on the ACCESS law, and only one pharmacist reported having complete knowledge of the law’s specifics.
  • Some pharmacists who have tried to fill the 12-month prescription may also not have enough supply in stock at the pharmacy. Notify your patients to come back for the remaining supply when available. 
  • Pharmacists can learn what to expect  when they receive 12-month prescriptions by reviewing the FAQ written by the MA Division of Insurance: Massachusetts ACCESS Law Common Questions and Answers (Q&A)
  • Pharmacy regulations do not permit a prescription to be written for a term of more than one year—the patient will need separate prescriptions for the trial period and the 12-month supply.
  • Review the Emergency Contraception Statewide Standing Order (PDF) | (DOCX) for Pharmacist 
  • Download and/or print a flyer for pharmacists on the ACCESS law

*A market research survey was conducted in January 2022 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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