General Election 2020: Improving quality of life for cancer patients and survivors

Older man and woman

In addition to the physical, emotional and psychological impact that cancer can have on a person, cancer patients and their families have to face the huge financial burden that comes with a cancer diagnosis. 

Our 2019 report on the Real Cost of Cancer shows that the cost of cancer in Ireland is crippling, with the average cancer patient paying €756 a month, rising to over €1,000 in some cases. Meanwhile, cancer patients face an average loss in income of over €1,500 per month. Many of the costs incurred by patients are not covered by a medical card or private health insurance. 

Charges faced by cancer patients include:

  • Inpatient charges of €80 per visit up to €800 per year for chemotherapy and other appointments. These charges are faced by people without a medical card or private health insurance, who are especially vulnerable when they receive a cancer diagnosis. 
  • Monthly medicine costs of up to €124 per month for those without a medical card as well as a €2 prescription charge per item for those with a medical card under the age of 70 (€1.50 for those over the age of 70).
  • Hospital car parking charges at an average of €64 per month.

It has also come to our attention that a number of patients who haven’t yet paid their inpatient charges have had these charges referred to debt collection agencies. We believe it is unacceptable that cancer patients are being subjected to high charges and unfair pursuit of their debt for basic treatment, while they have a number of other new expenses that arise as a result of treatment.  

The stress of managing the financial cost of a cancer journey can be as big as the stress of having cancer. We believe that this burden should be eased, and that automatic, life-long medical cards should be granted for people with a terminal diagnosis, while all other cancer patients should be granted a medical card at the point of diagnosis until they have completed treatment.

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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.

Marie, a breast cancer survivor from Co. Mayo
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To be charged for basic treatment was hard to take in the first place, but to have that charge sent to a debt collector added a great deal of stress to a very difficult situation. I was very fearful about what it might mean for me if I didn’t deal directly with debt collectors.

Léa, a breast cancer patient living in Dublin

The Irish Cancer Society believes that in 2020, anyone diagnosed with cancer should have equal access to treatment and support regardless of their ability to pay.

General Election 2020 one pager
General Election 2020 one pager
The next Government has the opportunity to make real improvements to the lives of cancer patients and survivors in Ireland. You can help by printing or screenshotting our General Election 2020 Canvass card and showing it to your candidate when they call to your door. Tell your local candidate to make cancer a Government priority in 2020.

For more information

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01 231 0500

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