Interesting idea from Mary Harney.

MH’s new proposals about the medical card here.  Will be savaged by the usual “everything should be free” crowd, but the tiered approach makes sense. I pay €60 to see a GP, and with a prescription you could be struggling to see change out of a €100. Good to see she’s recognising that PAYE workers should pay, as we do now, but get a bit of a dig out.  I know it sounds Victorian, but giving stuff away for free, in my opinion, actually lessens people’s value of it. I’d rather people pay a nominal €5 for a GP visit than nothing. My own experience as a student president in IT Tallaght confirmed that view. Of course the chronically ill will have to be treated differently, but as a broad social rule it’s sound.  

7 thoughts on “Interesting idea from Mary Harney.

  1. Thanks for the info Jason.

    As always an interesting post !

    Kind regards

  2. David, basically we have two tiers. If you are below a certain income threshold, you get what’s called a GMS card, which entitles you to free healthcare. The threshold is about €184 per week for a single person. If you are above that, you may be eligible to a GP visit card, but not free medicine. Everyone else pays their own way, although the state does subsidise some costs, and some of one’s medical costs are tax deductable. A lot of Irish people have private medical insurance (about 30% of the population, I think) and the state does regulate the cost of that too. The UK NHS is lauded in Ireland (as it should be) although ask the Irish to pay the say level of tax Brits pay to fund it and they go all US Republican on you!

  3. Sorry, I called them MH’s proposals because you can be sure the people opposed to them will call them that.

  4. A question.

    My wife works part time in a doctors (GP) surgery. At this time of year there is a constant flow of people arriving in the area, originally from your side of the water. These “travellers” lose no time in
    registering to see a GP (as is their right), as they have to pay to see a doctor in Ireland. I see from your post it’s E60 (per visit?). Is this a sliding charge based on income ? If your income is below a certain level, do you get to see a doctor at no charge ?

    Just askin’

    Kind regards

  5. Even a nominal charge has a use in making people aware that the service isn’t provided for free. What we really need is a gradated charging system and not the all or nothing approach that is the medical card.

  6. Just a small point, they’re not Mary Harney’s proposals. They are the proposals of an “independent expert group”.

    I’ve long been a believer of implementing the UK model of dealing with reports whereby within a set time period, the government has to give a reasoned response to such recommendations. Either saying what they will implement, what they won’t and most importantly why. Unfortunately, the Irish government’s track record in this regard is very poor – they commission reports, pay for them, but don’t demonstrate how they fit into what government subsequently does.

    I don’t disagree with your point, you should make a contribution for healthcare at some level. Either through a nominal payment, health insurance and so on.

  7. Would this mean the end of the Drug Payment Scheme? Currently I pay €120 per month for my prescriptions on the DPS, which I am happy to do.

    However reading this “Citizens with a “standard” primary care card would pay €40 per GP visit and the State would pay 20 per cent of their drug fees.” worries me. I suspect that 20% could be more than €120.

    But then I also read this “Meanwhile, “comprehensive” cards, similar to the existing medical card, would give patients access to health care services without a fee. The cards would be given to households with incomes in the lowest 30 per cent and those in the “High Tech” drug scheme.” which means I would pay nothing. Which is welcome, but unnecessary. I need my High Tech drugs paid for, but I don’t need free GP visits.

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