Publicly funded IVF and extended free contraception to be introduced in Ireland in 2023

Overall, the Cabinet signed off on a once-off €4.1 billion package, and main budget of €6.9 billion.

A pregnant person who did not use contraception holding their baby bump.
Image: Pexels

On Tuesday, September 27, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe delivered the Budget for 2023 to the Dáil. Among the key takeaways is the news that In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) will be publicly funded, and that the offer of free contraception will be extended to women* up to the age of 30, and for 16-year-olds.

It is the first time in history that IVF will be funded in this way, with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly reportedly having secured multi-million euro funding for a phased introduction of the service next year. At present, Ireland is the only EU country that does not provide State-funded assistance for IVF, a treatment that usually costs between €4,000 and €5,000.

In another positive development, the offer of free contraception will be extended to women between the ages of 16 and 30. This initiative was already introduced on September 14 for those between 17 and 25, and was welcomed widely by the Irish population.

According to Dr Ciara McCarthy, the scheme includes “prescriptions for shorter-acting items like the contraceptive pill, as well as the long-acting reversible contraceptives. These are things that people would know as the contraceptive implant or hormonal coils. The fitting and removal of these items would also be covered as well as any checkups or follow-up care that would be needed.”

In addition, emergency contraception and the morning-after pill are also included and will be available from pharmacies free of charge.

Within the healthcare budget, it has also been announced that inpatient charges will be removed, that free GP care will be extended to more than 400,000 people, that €300,000 is being dedicated to cutting waitlist times, and that there will be an increase of €58 million for mental health funding.

Elsewhere, one-off measures include not-for-profit organisations receiving €60 million for energy costs, and there will be temporary funding of €90 million for tourism and the arts to help support the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall, the Cabinet signed off on a once-off €4.1 billion package, and a main budget of €6.9 billion.

*There has not yet been any clarification as to whether or not free contraception will be offered to all people with uteruses.

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