A telehealth company focused on providing affordable access to birth control is expanding into Mississippi next week.
Twentyeight Health is based in New York and currently works in 33 states. Mississippi will bring that number to 34.
According to co-founder Amy Fan, over 200,000 women in Mississippi are living in contraceptive deserts, or counties where the number of health care providers offering the full range of birth control methods is not enough to meet the needs of the women eligible for publicly funded contraception.
To use Twentyeight Health, patients first fill out a medical questionnaire online that recommends birth control options. They are then connected with an out-of-state physician who is licensed to practice in Mississippi. The physician writes the prescription, and their birth control is then mailed to them discreetly.
The patient can message the physician who wrote their prescription or schedule a phone consultation at any point at no additional cost to answer any questions they might have.
“That’s actually something really important to our users, whether they’re living with roommates, or live in a multi-generational household, that they’re still able to engage with clinicians remotely, but in a way that feels private and discreet for them,” said Fan.
Fan said it’s important for women to have access to doctors who look like them. All of Twentyeight’s doctors are women, and 75% are women of color. Nearly half speak Spanish.
The company charges an annual $20 doctor evaluation fee to use its service. The birth control itself typically costs nothing if the patient has insurance, including Medicaid, but there is a low-cost out-of-pocket option for uninsured patients.
In Mississippi, Twentyeight’s services will only be available to patients ages 18 and up.
Fan said that they’ve wanted to bring the company to Mississippi for awhile, but it has taken time to get the licenses needed to operate in the state.
Mississippi law requires all health insurance and employee benefit plans to cover telemedicine services to the same extent they would an in-person visit.
Fan said Mississippi has the potential to be a high-impact service area for the company due to the lack of health care access, including sexual and reproductive health care.
“Unfortunately, Mississippi has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies,” Fan said. “And if we’re able to provide birth control more in a more readily accessible way, hopefully individuals who do not want to either start or grow their family at this moment are able to have control over their own timelines.”