Women of this age will be entitled to free prescriptions as well as consultations with their GP at no charge
Women of this age will be entitled to free prescriptions as well as consultations with their GP at no charge.
The measure was promised by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and follows consultations with GPs on the fees they will be paid for delivering the service.
Under the scheme, which will cost around €25m to fund, women aged 17-25 will be able to get contraception at no cost from the doctor or pharmacist.
Costs for the contraceptive pill and similar repeat prescription contraceptives are estimated at €65-€100 every six months.
The initial costs of long-acting reversible contraception, including consultation, purchase of the device and fitting, typically range from €250-€320. If the costs of removal are also included, the costs rise to €340-€470.
The new scheme will cover the full cost of prescription contraception, including the cost of necessary consultations with doctors to discuss suitable options with individual patient.
It will cover the cost of fitting or removal of various types of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) plus any necessary checks by medical professionals certified to carry out the work.
This includes contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs, the contraceptive patch and ring, and various forms of oral contraceptive pill, including emergency contraception.
The National Women’s Council (NWC) said it warmly welcomed the start of the scheme.
Alana Ryan, NWC’s Women’s Health Coordinator, said: “This is a groundbreaking step. Universal free contraception is a public health intervention with transformative potential and key to gender equality.
“Some women are sexually active before the age of 17, and long after the age of 25. So it’s crucial that Government follows this excellent first step up with a widening of the age bracket in the Budget.”