In Need of Reduced-Cost Health Services? Here’s What You Can Get at Planned Parenthood

planned parenthood services
Nurse practitioner Sharon Spiller, left, and physician assistant Tiernie Garbers, right, work at the Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Let’s talk about Planned Parenthood. Let’s not argue about Planned Parenthood. Let’s just talk about it.

I don’t want to wage a war, but in light of the recent news of the proposed Obamacare repeal that would halt federal funding for Planned Parenthood for an entire year, it’s time to talk about all the health care services you can currently get through the organization.

I’ll leave the a-word out of it completely.

Three-quarters of the approximately 4.97 million patients Planned Parenthood serves each year have incomes at or below 150% of the poverty line.

Planned Parenthood deals with the prevention and care of different diseases, infections and conditions, along with prenatal care, contraception and counseling services along with its free clinics, workshops and educational materials.

And depending on the individual’s situation, it’s often provided at little or no cost.

How it Works

Planned Parenthood offers most of its services on a sliding scale.

This means that it’ll use a “financial snapshot” of your last few weeks to create a pay scale that it believes is fair for your situation. The scale varies by location, but this cost calculator can give you a good idea of your range. If you’re unsure what counts toward your total monthly income, try filling out this income worksheet first.

The sliding scale allows Planned Parenthood to provide free and cheap services to the people who need it most.

Planned Parenthood also accepts most major insurance plans. If you do not have insurance, it’s often able to help you set up a payment plan that best suits your needs.

The state you’re in largely determines the amount of aid and in what form Planned Parenthood will give it. In New York, the state Medicaid program covers the total cost of birth control, STD testing, PAP tests, pregnancy tests and gynecological exams for anyone whose income is up to 200% of the federal poverty level.

The best thing to do is call your local Planned Parenthood, explain your situation and ask what it can do to help get you the care you need.

Services Planned Parenthood Provides at Low or No Cost

Planned Parenthood offers a range of services related to women’s physical, mental and reproductive health.

Depending on your health insurance and financial needs, you can take advantage of these services for little or no cost:

Primary Care Services

Primary care includes routine checkups and diagnostic care, along with referrals to outside physicians.


Planned Parenthood provides the full range of birth control options, from pills to patches to intrauterine devices (IUDs). It also offers emergency contraception. Over the past several years, Planned Parenthood has been a strong voice in the fight to make birth control more accessible and affordable to everyone.

Cancer Screening and Prevention

Along with cervical, ovarian and breast cancer screenings, Planned Parenthood also offers HPV vaccines, which can help to prevent cervical cancer.

STD Testing and Treatment

Most locations provide these services and can help with diagnosis, treatment and prevention of STDs. Planned Parenthood is even testing a program for rural areas (currently Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota and Washington) that will allow patients to meet with a doctor via video chat before the office sends birth control or an STD test and treatment in the mail.

Transgender Hormone Therapy

As of right now, only certain Planned Parenthood locations offer hormone therapy services — the ones that do strive to provide treatment on the same income-based sliding scale. Planned Parenthood also provides a safe space for LGBTQ youth to find the information and support they need.

Men’s Sexual Health

While Planned Parenthood is largely regarded as a women’s resource, most locations provide sexual health services for men as well.


Planned Parenthood educates parents, teens and young adults on sexual and reproductive health and safety. In 2014, Planned Parenthood reached more than 1.5 million people with its sex education programs.

Teens can now connect online and through apps that answer their questions and direct them to important resources.

And see? We avoided the a-word completely — which just goes to show that there is so much more to Planned Parenthood than is often presented to us.

Your Turn: What health care services have you received from Planned Parenthood?

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.