French teenagers aged 15 to 18 will have their contraceptive pills reimbursed 100 percent by the state from the beginning of 2013, Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced on Tuesday.
French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem added that the teenagers’ anonymity would be “guaranteed” under the new rules.
The government saw a need to protect teenagers hailing from families where sexuality is a taboo subject. The new measures aim to reduce pregnancies in this age group that result from a mixture of ignorance and lack of access to contraception.
“Providing free contraception is just as important for these teenagers as getting good sex education at school,” said Vallaud-Belkacem, who added that “more than a million” teenage girls in France were currently on the Pill.
The new measures will save them about 60 euros a year each.
French public social security only reimburses around two-thirds of the cost of prescription medicines; those without secondary insurance, known in France as a "mutuelle", must pay the additional third out of pocket.
Under current rules, teenagers wanting absolute anonymity when going to their doctor for contraception have to pay for the visit in cash – which costs 23 euros in France – without claiming the money back through the social security system.
The move was welcomed by Martine Hatchuel, president of ANCIC, the French Association which counsels women on contraception and abortion.
“It’s about time,” she said. “Minors should have access to contraception and it should be free and anonymous. But unfortunately just because a girl reaches 18 doesn’t mean she is out of the woods, and we would like to see this extended to women aged 25.”