Independent TD Mattie McGrath has expressed his anger and frustration at the revelation of new Guidelines which have outlined how a series of punitive charges will be incurred by Medical Card holders if they have to remain as a hospital in-patient for more than thirty days. Deputy McGrath was speaking after becoming aware that the HSE and the Department of Health have been discreetly implementing the new charging regime since 1 July 2014:
“These new charges, which were brought in by stealth, are quite literally astonishing in that they apply equally not just to holders of private health insurance but also to holders of full Medical Cards.
Under the new regime a person with an assessed weekly income of only €208 and who has a Medical Card will still be liable for a charge of €175 a week following the completion of 30 days as an in-patient.
If your assessed weekly income is a mere €68 then you will be liable for a payment of €35 a week for every week after the initial 30 day ‘free period.’ That is more than half that unfortunate individual’s income! If your income is only €53 then you will have to pay €20 a week.
What these charges do is essentially invalidate any benefit a person might have expected to gain from having a Medical Card.
They also fly in the face of any kind of logic given the fact that if a person has a Medical Card then they will have already been assessed by the HSE as lacking the means to afford necessary treatment.
Does the Department of Health now believe that suddenly after a 30 day in-patient period peoples meagre incomes are going to have been unaccountably raised?
It is an absolute disgrace and they will contribute hugely to the enormous levels of fear that exists in families of elderly and sick people who may routinely require long term stays in hospitals.
I have asked the Minister for Health to immediately explain the basis for these charges, which have the potential to drive up massive healthcare bills for people on Medical Cards and even for those who can access health insurance,” concluded Deputy McGrath.