Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

General Scheme of the Sick Leave Bill 2021: Discussion (Resumed)

Dr. Laura Bambrick:

I can respond on those figures. As the Senator said, we have good coverage of the population as a whole with respect to medical cards and GP cards. The officials mentioned the working-age population in this context last week. Many people in that cohort are outside the workforce. I refer to those with disabilities and many lone parents. If one’s youngest child is under the age of eight, one is not required to be looking for work and one is therefore not counted as part of the labour force. The Department of Health conducts a Healthy Ireland survey every two or three years of a sample of 7,500 people. It is representative, which means it is similar to the Red C poll one would read about on a Sunday. It is a snapshot of the population. We can note from it that one in seven people who are actively working, being either self-employed or employees, has a medical card and one in 27 has a GP card. When we narrow it down and examine the people not only of working age but who are in employment or self-employed, it is very narrow and the reason for that is the income is based on the household, not on what the individual earns. We know from research on minimum wage workers that many of them do not live in low-income households because they are either living with their parents, who have their own income, or they are living with a spouse, and the minimum wage earner is a second earner who might have a part-time entry job. We have very few people who are in work who have the cost of going to a GP covered. One in seven of them has a full medical card and one in 27 has a GP card. Many people of working age have a medical card but very few of them who are actively working today will have the €60 cost of a GP visit to get medical certificate covered.


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