Minister For Health Signs Off On Free EHC Service for Medical Card Holders - UPDATED | ICPhA

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With just over a week to go, Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has signed a statutory instrument changing access to emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) for medical card holders, effective 1st July 2017.

Minister Harris said “From next month medical card holders will be able to obtain EHC directly from a pharmacy, free of charge, without having to go to their GP for a prescription first."

"From 1st July, medical card holders will be able to obtain EHC directly from their pharmacist, following a consultation, without a prescription from their GP. This is an important public health measure and will remove any barrier to medical card patients getting timely treatment from their local pharmacy. This is about equity of access for all our citizens”.

Here's what's known so far:

  • Prevenelle or Ella One can be dispensed to female medical card holders.
  • Dispense under (currently unknown) scheme, print off the receipt docket and get the patient to sign it.
  • Place the pharmacy GMS number into the prescriber's part of the receipt docket.
  • HSE will pay €11.50 for the consultation, plus a dispensing fee and the reimbursement price of whichever EHC we prescribe.
  • If we decide not to dispense, following a consultation, we can still claim the fee for the consultation. The patient still has to sign the docket.
  • Signed dockets must be submitted with the GMS bundle at the end of the month.

We don't yet know if this is going to be a new scheme, or if it's going to be fully supported by software vendors by 1st July. Oh the joys of last minute moves by HSE/PCRS/DoH.

Hopefully this is just the first of many new services to come our way from the HSE as the FEMPI gets unwound.

UPDATE: Dispensing will be done under the GMS scheme, but there will be NO CHARGE to the patient. There will be two new codes issued for the service:

  • EHC Consultation - With Supply (79996) [cost price: €11.50]
  • EHC Consultation - Without Supply (79997) [cost price: €11.50]

The prescriber GMS code must be replaced by the pharmacy GMS number. If the consultation results in supply, you will then add either Prevenelle or Ella One and will be reimbursed the cost price for them.

The pharmacist must record "I confirm that I have counselled the patient and provided the service and/or product listed in compliance with the relevant protocol."

The pharmacist has to sign the Unified Claim Form (UCF) and record their PSI number.

NB: Notwithstanding any software changes, you may wish to manually remove the dispensing fee from the "EHC Consultation" item, as you will not be paid the dispensing fee for this item.

Source: Minister Harris gives go-ahead to allow direct access to emergency contraception for medical card holders (

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