The Irish Cancer Society is calling for changes to be brought in with Budget 2019.
The Irish Cancer Society is calling on the Government to abolish inpatient charges in Budget 2019. The charges see patients pay €80 for an inpatient visit, including ‘day cases’ for cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, which only take a few hours. The Society has launched a petition to support its call and is urging the public to get behind its campaign.
Averil Power, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society said, “Inpatient charges of up to €800 a year can be crippling for families struggling to make ends meet while also trying to cope with the physical and emotional impact of cancer.
“If patient charges aren’t paid within 7 weeks, they can be referred to a debt collection agency by the hospital. This practice causes needless stress and fear for patients and must be stopped. It is the last thing any patient needs while having treatment for cancer.
“In some cases of ‘excessive hardship’, hospitals may either waive the charge or agree instalment plans with patients. However, these arrangements are at the discretion of the hospital, and it is unclear what constitutes hardship. This also places an unfair administrative burden on patients on top of an already unfair charge”, she said.
Marie Moran, a breast cancer survivor from Co. Mayo, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 32 weeks pregnant. She said, “The first I knew of inpatient charges was when the bills arrived. I was in the process of applying for a medical card so in the hope that it would come through, I didn’t pay the charges. When the bills turned into final notices it caused me so much stress and worry at an already difficult time. Eventually the hospital agreed to waive the charges, however I still received a couple of chase up letters demanding payment which was really upsetting and stressful.
“I was already fighting cancer with a new baby, I didn’t need the additional fear of debt collectors knocking at my door.”
Ms. Power concluded: “Removal of inpatient charges will benefit all patients dealing with high medical costs who do not have a medical card or private health insurance. We are asking the public to support our campaign and ensure vulnerable patients no longer have to face crippling charges and the pressure of debt collectors.”
For further information and to sign the online petition see here.