Words: Ellen Kenny
Women between the ages of 17 and 25 are now able to access free contraception under new legislation.
The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Act 2022 has come into effect today, saving woman between the ages of 17 and 25 hundreds of euro each year.
From today, the State will cover the cost of prescribed contraception. This includes the cost of consultations to discuss suitable contraception options and obtain a prescription, and the cost of contraceptive options currently available to medical card holders.
This includes contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs, the contraceptive patch and ring and various forms of oral contraception. Emergency contraception will also be free.
This plan was first introduced in the Programme for Government and was promised in Budget 2022. Budget 2023 is set to be announced on September 23.
The average cost of a consultation to discuss contraceptive is 60 euros, while a follow-up appointment costs 45 euros. The average cost of a contraceptive pack is between five and eight euros. A single pack typically lasts a month. The EllaOne emergency contraceptive costs 60 euros.
The average cost of a coil insertion, refit and removal is 510 euros. The average cost of hormal implant contraceptive is 440 euros. All of these costs are now free for women aged between 17 and 25.
The Act will also abolish the cost of in-patient and out-patient charges for children under 16 in all public hospitals. Currently, public patients, including children, are subject to a statutory public in-patient charge of 80 euros per night.
The National Women’s Council (NWC) has welcomed the implementation of free contraception. In a statement released yesterday, NWC Women’s Health Coordinator Alana Ryan said, ““This is a groundbreaking step. Universal free contraception is a public health intervention with transformative potential and key to gender equality.”
However, Ryan also argued that it is “crucial” that the aged bracket is widened. According to Ryan, “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 at the end of the month.”
“While the cost of the pill is prohibitive for some women, the large upfront investment required for more reliable long-acting contraceptives such as the coil is prohibitive for many more. As more women face increased financial pressure, the Government must ensure that income is not a barrier to contraception for anyone.”
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