Any GP who has not yet signed up for the new free birth control service for women aged 17 to 25 can still offer it from today and claim reimbursement from the HSE in the coming weeks upon signing up, it was revealed yesterday.
Ps would have liked more time before launching the program but it is a game-changing development that will be welcomed by women in this age bracket due to the financial freedom afforded them.
Webdoctors who only advise patients online cannot yet participate in the program.
Work is ongoing to bring her online, and such a move will be welcomed by women who find it difficult to get a face-to-face appointment with a busy GP.
Not only are women entitled to free oral contraception and fitting of IUDs and implants, but all consultations with the family doctor are also free.
Around 100 general practitioners were still in the process of inquiring about the contract yesterday morning.
Not all GPs will sign up for an HSE fee, but most are expected to do so in the coming weeks, depending on the workload and age group of their patients.
A woman must seek personal advice from a general practitioner who will assess her suitability and any health risks before prescribing or fitting any contraceptive.
Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, who launched the scheme yesterday, said it will be expensive at €26 million in a full year but means “we are removing any financial barriers for an age cohort for whom such barriers are most likely to be a problem “.
Young women will make significant savings as a result. The cost of the pill and similar repeated prescription contraceptives can be estimated at 65 to 100 euros per six months. It will lead to fewer unplanned pregnancies and could affect the number of abortions.
The initial cost of a long-acting reversible contraceptive, including advice, purchase of the device and fitting, can typically range from €250 to €320. If the moving costs are added, the costs increase to between 340 and 470 euros.
All of this is now free, and there is no charge for aftercare.
The higher cost of permanent contraception discouraged women who could not afford it, forcing them to choose less reliable forms.
Long-acting reversible contraceptives can be at least 10 times more effective than other reversible contraceptives.
The morning-after pill and emergency contraception are also free.
Mr Donnelly said he would like to extend eligibility to ages 16 and over 25, but there is no timetable for that yet.
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) and the Dublin Well Woman Center will both be involved in the programme.
Dublin Well Woman Center’s Alison Begas said she welcomes the program and predicts demand for her service will increase.
IFPA’s Niall Behan said: “A solid public health awareness campaign is absolutely essential to the success of the programme”.
“People who are eligible for the program need accessible information about all the methods available, their pros and cons, and where and how to access free contraception,” he added.
“Currently, under-17s and over-25s without health cards still have to pay for contraception, and the high upfront costs for the most effective methods – IUDs and implants – make them inaccessible to many.
“We know that some women and girls are forced to rely on less effective methods or none at all.
“Today is a major step forward for reproductive health and rights, but this groundbreaking program needs to be rapidly scaled to all ages.”
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/free-contraception-for-women-aged-17-to-25-is-major-step-but-the-age-limits-need-widening-41990225.html Free contraception for women aged 17-25 in Ireland is a “big step” but age limits need to be extended