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Healthcare: Public IVF services and expansion of free contraception to women aged 16 to 30

This could see savings of up to €470 on the cost of prescription contraception.

Updated Sep 27th 2022, 8:42 PM

MINISTER FOR PUBLIC Expenditure Michael McGrath has announced the expansion of the government’s free contraception scheme for 17 to 25-year-olds to women aged 16 to 30.

The change will come into effect from 1 September 2023 and could see an individual save up to €470 on the cost of prescription contraception.

Under the current scheme women are not charged for the cost of prescription contraception, including the cost of consultations with medical professionals and fitting and/or removal of various types of contraceptives.

The range of contraceptive options currently available to medical card holders, include contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs (coils), the contraceptive patch and ring and various forms of oral contraceptive pill, including emergency contraception.

The government came under criticism earlier this year when this set of measures came into effect, with the National Women’s Council stating it was “crucial” that the age limit at the time of 17-25 was widened.

The initial measure was campaigned for by the Green Party in talks to form the current government, and deputy leader of the party Catherine Martin welcomed today’s expansion.

“This is important progress in the roll out of free prescription contraception for women. The Green Party will build on this progress by continuing to work towards a high-quality scheme that delivers universal, free access to contraception, as a cornerstone of women’s healthcare in Ireland,” she said.

When the first measure was announced in 2021, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly stated that it would cost €28 million for 2022 alone despite only coming into effect at the end of the summer.

The cost of an entire year of this broader scheme is unknown.

During his Budget speech, McGrath also announced that publicly funded IVF services would also be brought in at the start of 2023.

The measure had previously been flagged by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in early 2022.

Health negotiations

When asked this evening about discussions with the Department of Health on this year’s budget package, McGrath said that they were “really good”.

He said that the budget provided for the Department was “very strong” and that the Health Minister was excited about the measures he has.

“It’s a budget of over €23 billion and within that know is funding to recruit an additional 6000 staff,” said McGrath.

I think Mr Donnelly got a really good budget and I know that he is excited about the measures he has, and also wants to, as a priority, make progress on waiting lists, because there is a hangover from COVID.

“He’s got a very large package of over €400 million targeted at waiting lists and that’s going to be a top priority in the Department of Health in 2023,” McGrath concluded.

Additional reporting by Tadgh McNally

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