Prescription charges on medical card patients and families – Another attack on lower income people

Medical card drug levy –

As of October 1st, everybody with a medical card will be charged for each prescription filled.

How much is the prescription charge?

The prescription charge is 50 cent for each item that is dispensed to you under the Medical Card Scheme, up to a maximum of €10 per month, per person or family. Once your pharmacy can identify all of your family members then you should not pay more than €10 per month.

What constitutes a ‘Family’ for the purpose of the €10 monthly maximum?

A family is you, your spouse / partner, any children under 16 years of age and any children between 16 and 21 years of age who are in full time education.

What if I or my family pays more than €10 in a month?

The HSE will issue refunds automatically on a quarterly basis, based on the information received from your pharmacy. However, you can avoid refunds altogether if you and your family visit a single pharmacy and your Pharmacist can identify all of your family members.

If you consider that you have not received the refund that was due to you, you can apply online, or on a refund claim form, to make a claim.

The levy is designed to collect €25 million annually.

For many people it will not amount to much out of their income but the HSE is insisting pharmacies collect the levy from homeless people, residents of nursing homes and disability centres, from psychiatric patients, and from the terminally ill in palliative care.

When the levy was first announced in last year’s budget, children in care and people on methadone programmes were excluded. A spokesman for the Patients Associations has called for others to be exempted.

It seems incredibly cruel that homeless and terminally ill people would be denied medication if they cannot pay. Members of the Government have exhibited enormous extravagance in dealing with their own pay, expenses and pensions, as well as great generosity in dealing with some public employees. They have been pledging billions to save the greedy bankers and speculators, yet they are prepared to screw a pittance from the homeless and terminally ill.

This exhibits a depraved sense of priorities.

Some of this was in Irish Examiner Thursday, September 30, 2010