Petition to abolish inpatient charges gains traction

Charlie Flynn

Reporter:

Charlie Flynn

Today, the Irish Cancer Society announced over 5,000 people have signed their petition to ask the Government to abolish inpatient charges for all patients. The Society launched the Inpatient Charge campaign during the month of September to support their call for abolition of the charge which can have a severe financial and emotional impact for patients and their families.

Marie Moran, a breast cancer survivor from Co. Mayo, faced these charges while dealing with a cancer diagnosis during pregnancy. She said: “It was such a whirlwind. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 32 weeks into my pregnancy. It was such a stressful time for me, physically and emotionally, and to be landed with bills of €80 for each treatment session was a real shock. When bills quickly turned into final notices demanding payments, it caused me so much stress and worry at an already difficult time.”

Inpatient charges affect those who are most vulnerable. They apply to patients who do not qualify for a medical card or do not have private health insurance. This means some cancer patients face charges of €80 for treatment either as an inpatient, or for day cases including chemotherapy, which can mean total charges of up to €800 a year for hard-pressed individuals and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

“I am so grateful to the thousands of Irish people who have shown their support by signing the Irish Cancer Society’s petition to end these charges so that families like mine no longer have to face the financial strain of inpatient fees and fear debt collectors knocking at your door.”

Donal Buggy, Head of Advocacy and Services said: “What is often forgotten when speaking about the life-changing impact of a cancer diagnosis, is the financial toll it can take on individuals and families, which, for some, can be as stressful as a diagnosis itself.”

“We have been campaigning for a number of years to reduce the ‘Real Cost of Cancer’ which can see ordinary families face huge outlays on charges, such as the inpatient charge, at a time when they are experiencing a range of significant financial, physical and emotional pressures.”

“In Budget 2019, the Irish Cancer Society is calling on the Government to abolish inpatient charges to improve the lives of cancer patients and to alleviate the financial burden a cancer diagnosis brings. We urge the Government to abolish inpatient charges and implement the additional proposals outlined in our pre-budget submission to reduce out of pocket payments for patients.”

The Society has also called for a:
• Phased reduction in the monthly reimbursement threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme to €85 to alleviate the burden on those facing high medication costs
• Phased abolition of prescription charges by 2020, so those on low incomes can afford to get all their prescribed medication each month

Mr. Buggy added: “These proposals were broadly reflected in the cross-party Sláintecare report which recommended a significant reduction in out-of-pocket charges. Following publication of an implementation strategy for Sláintecare in August, we need to see real progress on this in Budget 2019.”