Cancer patients 'struggle' to meet costs
Cancer patients are increasingly struggling to pay for necessities such as heat and travel expenses, according to the Irish Cancer Society.
The society has also expressed concern that patients in treatment for cancer, even those who are waiting for a medical card, are being asked to pay for chemotherapy treatment. It says some patients have received letters from debt collection agencies for payment for hospital charges and chemotherapy treatment.
Applications to the charity’s financial aid scheme have increased by 36 per cent in the last three years, it said today, with assistance now exceeding €1 million a year.
“We are hearing an increased anxiety from our callers about the cost of having cancer. A growing number of cancer patients are simply unable to manage the extra cost because they have cancer,” said Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy and communications at the society.
Queries about costs such as heating and travel were now the third most frequent type of call to the society’s helpline, she said.
People with medical cards or private health insurance are covered for the €75 a night inpatient charge, but hospitals are entitled to impose the charge, which is subject to a €750 a year maximum, on other patients.
The HSE says the charge has been in place for some time and no new charge is involved. It says it has a statutory obligation to impose the charge and to recover the money owed to hospitals.