People who are diagnosed with cancer not only pay a high price in terms of their health and quality of life, they are also badly hit financially by the diagnosis.
Breast or lung cancer patients have direct out of pocket medical expenses averaging €1,491 while 90 per cent of other cancer sufferers have cancer related costs of up to €7,559, research indicates.
Roscommon Galway TD Denis Naughten has called for the extension of medical cards to everyone diagnosed with cancer, regardless of age.
“While I welcome the step previously taken by Minister Varadkar to give all children diagnosed with cancer a medical card, the fact is that cancer does not discriminate by age. Everyone diagnosed with cancer should automatically be given a medical card for the first year following diagnosis instead of being forced through a complicated and exhausting application process,” stated Denis Naughten.
He highlighted the fact that cancer sufferers can face an additional €10,000 in costs associated with the disease and this must be taken into consideration by the medical card section of the HSE.
Currently people diagnosed with cancer must verify these expenses to have them considered as part of their medical card assessment. However, in many cases these expenses only arise during the treatment itself.
“Every time I have a person diagnosed with cancer contact me about a medical card, I sympathise with them about the battle which they then face to secure a medical card,” stated Denis Naughten.
“For many people diagnosed with cancer, they are of the belief that the HSE deliberately seeks additional information in the hope that the applicant is too sick to respond and will instead just throw in the towel.
“What is frustrating is the fact that there seems to be a lack of understanding of just how sick someone can be when they are on treatment for cancer. Instead we have the medical card section seeking information which we are told is accessible to them via the Revenue Commissioners and Social Welfare.”
He said Minister Varadkar recently gave all children diagnosed with cancer a medical card for the five years following diagnosis.
“I’m asking now for the same for adults diagnosed with cancer. While I welcome the step taken by Minister Varadkar to give all children diagnosed with cancer a medical card for a period of five years following diagnosis, the fact is that cancer does not discriminate by age.”
He said if this is not possible in the short term the medical card section should take the additional costs of cancer, averaging at €10,000, into account when assessing someone for a medical card.