Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Health

Health Service Charges

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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To ask the Minister for Health the measures he will take to prevent undue financial hardship on patients attending for vital medical treatment, in view of reports from the Irish Cancer Society; the assessment of ability to pay that is conducted and the waivers that apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57695/12]

Photo of Alex WhiteAlex White (Dublin South, Labour)
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Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970, eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means.There are currently two categories of eligibility for all persons ordinarily resident in Ireland i.e. full eligibility (medical card) and limited eligibility (all others).Full eligibility is determined mainly by reference to income limits, and is granted to persons who, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, are unable to provide general practitioner, medical and surgical services to themselves and their dependents without undue hardship.There is no automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons who have cancer.

There is a provision for discretion to grant a card in cases of "undue hardship" where the income guidelines are exceeded.The HSE recently set up a clinical panel to assist in the processing of applications for discretionary medical cards where there are difficult personal circumstances. There is an emergency process for a person who is terminally ill, or in urgent need of medical attention and cannot afford to pay for it, that provides a card within 24 hours while the normal application process is completed. Details of this procedure have been made available to all GPs and Social Workers. Such applications can be initiated through the Local Health office whose manager has access to a dedicated fax and e-mail contact line to the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS). Once the medical condition is verified by a GP or a consultant, and the required personal details are provided, an emergency card is issued to that person for a six-month period.


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