Clarity is required from the Department of Health on a starting date for the roll-out of the free contraception scheme for women aged 17 to 25, Fine Gael TD Colm Burke has said.
Deputy Burke also called for a national campaign so that women who are eligible for the scheme know how and where they can access the service.
Deputy Burke said: “The free contraception scheme for women aged 17-25 is due to begin in early September, which is to be welcomed. However, these young women need clarity as to when exactly they can avail of free contraception and which medical practitioner in their community will provide it.
“There is a significant cost involved for GP consultations, repeat prescriptions and the type of contraceptive a patient may opt for. The contraceptive pill and similar repeat prescription contraceptives have been estimated to cost between €65-100 every six months, and are higher for long-acting reversible contraceptive devices.
“It is therefore positive that Government can first help younger women who have greater difficulty in accessing contraception where cost is a barrier.
“Some women included in the scheme will be using contraception for the first time, so it is therefore vital that we have a national information campaign aimed at those who are eligible on accessing the scheme, which should include radio and broadcasting channels, as well as social media.
“The Minister for Health has confirmed the contraception scheme will cover the full cost of prescription contraception, including the cost of necessary consultations, fitting and/or removal of various types of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) plus any necessary checks.
“It will also cover the cost of providing the wide range of contraceptive options currently available to GMS (medical) card holders, which will also be available through this scheme, including contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs (coils), the contraceptive patch and ring, and various forms of oral contraceptive pill.
“It is also positive that emergency contraception, which can typically cost €35 in some pharmacies, will also be available to those eligible under the scheme.
“Contraception is not solely a women’s health issue, but the cost is generally born by women and parents/guardians of teenage girls it is prescribed for. It is also used to treat a range of other health issues, so it is vital Government supports access to care for those who most need it,” Deputy Burke said.