The Irish Cancer Society has called on the Government to remove and reduce charges that are “driving people to the wall” in Budget 2018.
In its pre-Budget submission to Government, the Society says that cancer patients are being hammered financially by €80 in-patient charge, the prescription charge and the cost of medicine.
Cancer patients’ reduced income as a result of being out of work, combined with the additional out-of-pocket payments associated with having cancer mean that they are struggling to meet the extra charges being levied by the Government.
“We hear stories of immense financial hardship from cancer patients nearly every day, and it’s clear that many are struggling to cope,” said Donal Buggy, the Society’s head of services and advocacy.
“The January increase in the inpatient charge from €75 to €80 per visit, which affects cancer patients undergoing treatment, merely adds insult to injury, at a time when the State should be looking to reduce costs for patients.”
Despite indications from the Department of Health last September that the Minister for Health would use mechanisms within the Health (Amendment) Act 2013 to keep the charge at €75, Minister Harris signed a commencement order increasing the charge to €80 per visit, capped at €800 a year, later that month.
The charity is calling for:
- The prescription charge to be abolished;
- The amount patients have to pay for medicine under the Drugs Payment Scheme to be lowered from €144 a month to €85;
- The inpatient charge of €80 to be abolished.
The Irish Cancer Society says that this would save cancer patients with medical cards up to €300 a year and those without medical cards, up to €1450 per year.
Research commissioned by the Society called the ‘Real Cost of Cancer’, shows that cancer patients are crippled financially by the double blow of a reduced income and increased costs.
The report found that the average extra spend per month amongst cancer patients surveyed, even those with a medical card or private health insurance, was €862, while those who cannot work, work less, or lose income as a result of having cancer, face an income drop averaging €1,400 a month, or €16,750 per year.
The Irish Cancer Society says its proposals will also benefit non-cancer patients on low incomes and people dealing with high medical costs, along with those who have neither a medical card nor private health insurance coverage.