Written Answers. - Hospital Admission Charge.

438.

asked the Minister for Health the present position of the health boards scheme of requesting a charge £100 per admission to persons who cannot produce a medical card or proof that health contributions were paid; the total sum collected by health boards under this scheme to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter indicating how he expects emergency applications for admissions to be dealt with under this scheme.

The £100 hospital admission charge was introduced as an inducement to defaulters to pay arrears of health contributions. While I am satisfied that it has had a beneficial effect, the Deputy will no doubt appreciate that it would be impossible to quantify it. The amount collected to date by way of hospital admission charges is £6,000. This amount, of course, is not significant and should, in fact, bear an inverse relationship to the basic objective of the scheme. Persons in arrears of health contributions are not refused admission to hospital in emergencies; the question of collecting the admission charge and the arrears is pursued later.