Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice Martin Kenny TD today raised his concerns in the Dáil about the cost of cancer care for people in rural Ireland.
The Sligo Leitrim TD cited the significant out of pocket expenses people in his constituency are experiencing when they are unable to afford health insurance, but are ineligible for a Medical Card.
Teachta Kenny said:
“I have read the report from AIG Insurance which state that many patients experience an out of pocket expense of €1,104 on average.
“Thousands of cancer patients face into a financial burden in the region of €700-€800 per month, which is nearly €10,000 a year. And that is just the cost of their care.
“One man in my area recently told me that he was more concerned with meeting the cost of his mortgage payments and everyday living expenses, than he was about his treatment or survival.
“That to me says there is something inherently wrong with our treatment of patients going through cancer treatment – that they would be dreading their bills more than scan results.
“These patients also have other costs such as increased heating costs, given that some types of chemotherapy can affect the bodies ability to heat itself.
“Many of these people will need to take sick leave, and some are forced onto illness benefit indefinitely.
“We know there is also the additional cost of travelling for treatment if you live in rural Ireland. If you are in Sligo or Donegal, your nearest hospital is Galway which could be up to 150kms away and you need to make your way there three times a week or more.
“When Fianna Fáil was in opposition, they were intent on government providing a medical card to every cancer patient, but they’ve changed their tune since entering government.
“I called on Minister Ryan today to bring my concerns back to the Minister for Health and to the Cabinet as a whole.
“A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event. Nearly one in two people will develop cancer during his or her life.
The rate of cancer is equivalent to someone being diagnosed in the State every three minute.
“Many of these patients are fighting for their lives, they should not have to fight to pay for their treatment too.”