herald

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Medical card saving as 10k quit country

The HSE was able to strike thousands of medical cards from its books this year, thanks to the huge numbers emigrating.

Approximately 10,000 medical cards were removed from the register in the first nine months of this year because the holders were no longer living in the jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, 81 medical cardholders voluntarily surrendered their cards, according to information provided by the HSE to the Dail Public Accounts Committee.



Processed

However, overall the number of people with medical cards continues to rise.

The most recent figure for the number of people covered by medical cards was 1.8m.

The number of people covered by GP-visit cards was 131,193, bringing the total covered by both to more than 1.9m.

At the beginning of the year, 1.6m were covered by medical cards.

According to the HSE figures, 95pc of properly completed medical card applications have been processed within the 15-day turnaround period.

The majority of the remainder would relate to the assessment of discretionary medical cards, it said.

The applications continue to be sent in as the end of year approaches. The first week of December saw 7,098 medical card applications and renewals received by the HSE.

However, people with a medical card will not escape financial pain after being hit with new charges that will come into effect in January, in the latest round of health hikes.

The prescription charge for medical card holders will treble from 50c to €1.50 per item from the New Year..

An individual or family covered by a medical card, who previously paid no more than €10 a month, will now be liable for up to €19.50.

The measures are part of a menu of cuts and extra charges which were outlined by Health Minister James Reilly as part of the Budget, as he spelt out how the HSE would operate next year.

fdillon@herald.ie

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