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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

Expansion of the free contraception scheme

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced the expansion of the free contraception scheme to include women aged 26, from 1 January 2023. It will be further expanded to include 27 to 30-year-olds from 1 September 2023.

Free contraception is Green Party policy and we negotiated for its inclusion in the Programme for Government. Today’s announcement of the extension of the existing scheme to include 26 year old women is a welcome step towards our overall goal.

A report of the Working Group on Access to Contraception published in 2019 identified that young women should be prioritised when giving free contraception. I welcome the timeframe that by September of 2023 the scheme will be further extended to include 27 to 30 year olds in what is a phased implementation in the right direction for women.

Please check in advance that your doctor or clinic is registered under the scheme. At present over 2,200 GPs, primary care centres, family planning centres and student health clinics have signed contracts with the HSE to provide services under the scheme, with additional providers pending. Over 1,850 pharmacies are also participating in the scheme.

What is covered?

For eligible women, the free contraception scheme provides for:

  • the cost of prescription contraception

  • the cost of consultations with GPs and other relevant medical professionals to discuss contraceptive options with eligible patients and to provide prescriptions for these

  • the cost of fitting and/or removal of various types of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) plus any necessary checks, by medical professionals certified to fit/remove LARCs (for example: intrauterine devices (IUD), systems (IUS), coils and implants)

  • the cost of providing the wide range of contraceptive options currently available to GMS (medical) card holders, which will also be available through this scheme, including contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs, the contraceptive patch and ring, and various forms of oral contraceptive pill, including emergency contraception

  • the cost of training and certifying additional GPs and other medical professionals to fit and remove LARCs

Continuity of Care

From 1 January 2023, women aged from their 17th birthday until the day before their 27th birthday will be eligible for free contraception under the scheme. Women who have had coils, IUDs, IUSs or implants inserted under the scheme will remain eligible for the subsequent checks and free removal of any devices that were inserted before their 27th birthday, in order to ensure continuity of care.

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