Local Fianna Fáil Senator, Malcolm Byrne, has today welcomed the announcement by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, that the free contraception scheme has been expanded to include women aged 27 to 30 years.
The scheme, which was launched in September 2022 for ages 17-25, was expanded to include 26-year-olds on 1 January 2023. It is now being made available to all women aged 17-30 inclusive. The scheme is open to women, girls and other people identifying as transgender or non-binary who are ordinarily resident in Ireland and for whom prescription contraception is deemed suitable by their doctors.
The scheme reflects Fianna Fáil’s Women’s Health Policy, that healthcare should be accessible, equitably distributed and should support the changing health needs of women throughout their life course.
Senator Byrne said: “Women’s health is a top priority for Fianna Fáil in Government and I’m delighted that the free contraception scheme has been expanded to include women aged 17-30, further removing financial barriers to women’s healthcare, particularly in the context of the current cost of living crisis. Fianna Fáil will continue to prioritise gender equity, reducing costs and being ambitious in our work to deliver world class healthcare for women in Ireland.”
The scheme covers the cost of consultations with GPs, family planning, student health and primary care centres and prescriptions for the wide range of contraceptive options available on the Health Service Executive (HSE) Re-Imbursement List. These options include long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). LARCS include injections, implants and hormonal and copper intra-uterine devices and systems (coils). The scheme also includes emergency contraception in addition to the oral contraceptive Pill, patch and ring.
LARC fittings, removals, injections and checks are also free of charge under the scheme.
Prescriptions are dispensed at a local pharmacy of choice. If LARCs are chosen (for example: coils and implants), patients return to a service provider participating in the scheme to have the device fitted, and subsequently removed.
All of these costs are fully covered by the State and are free of charge to the patient.
In addition to its primary use, hormonal contraception also plays a key role in treating adverse symptoms, such as pain and heavy bleeding, that can be associated with periods.
Almost 2,400 GPs and 1,950 pharmacies have signed up to provide services and products under the scheme to date. Approximately €31.5 million was allocated to support the scheme in 2023.
Further information regarding both free prescription contraception and the National Condom Distribution Service is available through the HSE’s Sexual Wellbeing website. This information is regularly updated and provides full details of how to access the scheme.