Telemedicine and abortion, explained

Eligible patients can get the abortion pill through some telemedicine services that allow providers to prescribe the pill and have it dispensed through a mail-order pharmacy, or through in-person pickup. This option lets people have an abortion at home.

Telemedicine and abortion, explained

Tess Braunstein

Can I get the abortion pill through Telemedicine?

Eligible patients can get the abortion pill through some telemedicine services that allow providers to prescribe the pill and have it dispensed through a mail-order pharmacy, or through in-person pickup. Also known as a medication abortion, medical abortion, or sometimes RU-486, this option lets people have an abortion at home.

Depending on the clinic, the abortion pill is generally available up to 7-11 weeks. A medical abortion most commonly involves taking two medicines: mifepristone and misoprostol, which are self-administered by patients under provider supervision. Follow-up visits may occur at various intervals and can include the use of a pregnancy test to confirm if the medications have been successful.

What are the benefits to having an abortion at home?

Using virtual visits and telehealth appointments assists people seeking the abortion pill, who can then manage when they ingest it. Patients can more easily access appointments, get their medications, and take them sooner. Reducing waiting times in turn leads to better health outcomes for patients, as there is a greater chance of the procedure being successful.

Using telemed services to get the abortion pill is a safe and effective way for patients to get medical care, with similar results to getting the medications through in-person visits. At home abortion, also known as self-managed or self-induced abortion, also significantly reduces barriers to care and expands access for those individuals who might not otherwise be able to get to in-person appointments.

Will insurance pay for a Telemed abortion?

In New York State, access to abortion services through telemed visits has been greatly expanded following the FDA’s reconsideration of the in-person dispensing requirement. The right to get an abortion is protected in New York. All of the state-regulated private health insurance plans are required to provide full coverage of abortion services, including the abortion pill, and this coverage extends to telemed services. The New York State Medicaid program covers the cost of the abortion pill as well.