Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Health
319. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the significant upfront cost for women who use a long-acting reversible contraceptive (details supplied) to control their fertility; his views on whether this cost is prohibitive for many women and an unfair financial burden on them; if he will take steps to make contraceptive products free for those who need them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17741/21]
The Working Group Report on Access to Contraception examined the range of policy, regulatory and legislative issues arising in relation to improving access to contraception, including consideration of the use of LARCs. The report found that barriers to accessing contraception do exist for some people and that these barriers go beyond cost to include embarrassment, lack of knowledge, inconvenience and lack of local access. At the same time, the report was clear that contraception use in Ireland is high and stable.
Eligibility for access to contraceptive products is currently governed by the same eligibility framework as applies more broadly in the Irish healthcare system, and the supports available to individuals in terms of mitigating the cost of LARCs are also the same.
Those who hold a medical card can access contraception, including LARCs, free of charge except for a €1.50 per item prescription charge levied at the pharmacy. In addition, those who possess GP visit cards can see their doctor without charge, effectively removing the clinical cost associated with LARCs, although the individual would still have to pay for the product itself.
For those not in possession of either a medical card or GP visit card, contraception is considered as an out-of-pocket expense. However, the Drug Payment Scheme covers in full the cost of prescribed medication in excess of €114 a month for an individual or family which can serve to limit this cost.
Despite the delay caused by the need to focus on and prioritise the response to the current pandemic, it remains a commitment of this Government to provide free contraception over a phased period, beginning with women aged 17-25.