Irish Cancer Society calls on Government to reduce financial burden on patients in Budget 2020
Society Chief says patients feel ‘under siege’ from high statutory charges
The Irish Cancer Society launched its Budget 2020 submission today, calling on the Government to reduce the huge financial strain on cancer patients and their families.
Chief Executive Averil Power said: “Many families suffer a big drop in income when someone gets cancer. At the same time, they have to pay for everything from chemotherapy appointments to anti-nausea medication and hospital parking charges. With extra costs of up to €1,200 a month, they find themselves under siege financially while also trying to manage the physical and psychological burden of having cancer.”
Marie Moran, a breast cancer survivor from Co. Mayo, faced inpatient charges while dealing with a cancer diagnosis during pregnancy. “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.”
In Budget 2020 the Society is calling for:
- The removal of inpatient charges, which currently cost €80 per visit up to a maximum of €800 a year;
- A reduction in the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold from €124 a month to €100 for families and €72 for single people;
- The removal of the prescription charge for medical card holders (currently €2 per item up to a maximum of €20); and
- Reduced hospital parking charges for frequent visitors
According to Ms Power there is clear public support for such measures. “In a survey recently carried out by Core Research, almost 3 in 4 people supported the removal of inpatient charges while 6 in 10 said the drug payment scheme threshold should be reduced.
“It also found those on medical cards often don’t take all their medication because they can’t afford prescription charges. More than 1 in 2 chose to pay for their child’s medication ahead of their own. Unable to afford essential medicines, such as anti-nausea tablets, patients’ suffer far worse side effects from their cancer treatment than they should. This is incredibly unfair and must be addressed”, she said.
In Budget 2020, the Irish Cancer Society is also calling for sufficient funding to implement the Government’s commitments under the National Cancer Strategy. This would ensure better treatment and outcomes for cancer patients and reduce the number of people getting cancer in the future.