Age Action is urging older people not to respond to the economic hardship caused by the new prescription charge by not taking their prescribed medication.
Since the new 50 cent per item charge began on October 1, problems are emerging for older people on multiple medications and low incomes, who are faced with charges on monthly prescriptions which they have not budgeted for and cannot afford.
“We have become aware of people who have opted not to fill their prescriptions until their next pension or social welfare payment arrives, as they cannot afford the charge of up to €10 per month,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said.
In part, problems are arising because older people were unaware of the new charge and had not budgeted for it. But the charge itself is causing hardship for those on low incomes, the older people’s charity noted.
“Nobody should have to turn to a community welfare officer or the Society of St Vincent de Paul to get a few euro to cover the cost of their essential medication, but this is a better option that not getting that medication,” Mr Timmins said.
“The problems caused by the prescription charge illustrate the degree to which some people are living on the breadline,” Mr Timmins noted. “These are the same people who would be hardest hit if the State pension is cut in the upcoming budget.”