Our action on medical cards

The Irish Cancer Society has heard from distressed cancer patients about their medical card experiences. There seems to be more and more problems for cancer patients applying for a discretionary medical card (discretionary medical cards are granted to people who are over the financial means test but would suffer ‘undue hardship’ if they were refused a card).

We heard from many financially stretched cancer patients who were refused a card or who lost it after a review.

We asked to meet the Government about this. We issued a press release which you can see here. During the months of May and June we met separately with the HSE and the Minister for Health to tell them of our concerns.

On the 17th June 2014 the government announced they were suspending any further reviews of discretionary medical cards and also returning cards to those who had lost them between the 1st of July 2011 and the 31st of May 2014. They will be contacting patients over the coming weeks. Read the full government announcement.

Unfortunately, they are only returning cards to those cancer patients who responded to the HSE when contacted about a review. However, a person is entitled to reapply for a medical card.

Medical need

Also, the government announced that for the first time ever it would consider giving medical cards on the basis of a person’s medical need as well as based on a person’s financial situation. Currently a person is assessed only on financial means.

This is a significant change in policy and we very much welcome it.

The government has formed an expert panel to consider what medical conditions would entitle a person to a discretionary medical card.

The Irish Cancer Society made a submission to the panel on 30th June 2014. We asked that all cancer patients undergoing treatment be given a medical card. This includes patients who may be recovered from cancer but have medical issues arising out of their cancer treatment i.e lymphoedema, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, the need for hormone therapy or physiotherapy, dental care, stoma care, etc.

We will continue to advocate on this issue.

For further information please contact advocacy@irishcancer.ie.


Date Last Reviewed: 
Monday, July 14, 2014