Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (676, 692)

Robert Troy

Question:

676. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will explain the anomaly which exists between monthly prescription charges for families in which no family member has a medical card and monthly prescription charges for families when one member has a medical card on medical grounds, if no family member has a medical card, that family pays a maximum of €144 per month for prescription charges, if one member of that family has a medical card on medical grounds then the family pays the €144 monthly prescription charge plus €1.50 per item in the medical card prescription; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8188/13]

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Willie Penrose

Question:

692. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if there are any proposals or provisions permitted which would accommodate persons who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the prescription charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8288/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 676 and 692 together.

The General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme and the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) are separate schemes with separate qualifying criteria.

Under the GMS Scheme, medical card holders are required to pay a €1.50 charge per item for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists, subject to a cap of €19.50 per month for each person or family. Charges are not payable in respect of items supplied under the Long Term Illness Scheme. Prescription charges do not apply to children in the care of the HSE or to methadone supplied to patients participating in the Methadone Treatment Scheme.

Under the DPS, no individual or family pays more than €144 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.

In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

There is no provision, under the prescription charge legislation, to accommodate persons who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the prescription charge.