Case study: Our biggest fear now is they'll take our GP card - Jen Mooney
JEN Mooney had been dreading the Budget.
Her son Rory is autistic and has a illness so rare is not believed to have been diagnosed in any other child.
Budget day always brings a sense of foreboding every year to the family from Rathcoole in Dublin.
Rory (6) is too old to qualify for the Government's free GP care benefit and for most of his life his family has paid for his frequent doctor visits.
He was granted at GP visit card nearly two years ago and when it comes up for renewal in February Jen's fear is that it will be taken away.
Without it the family is facing a huge monthly expense. "We were turned down for a medical card when doctors feared that Rory had cancer. I thought children with cancer were entitled to one, but our application was rejected. He has a GP visit card now but my fear is that it will not be renewed."
Following the Budget speech, Jen said she was relieved no change had been made in the income thresholds for the GP visit card. "The worry is not over yet. There is no guarantee the card will be renewed," she said
Two and a half years ago, Rory's health took a turn for the worse and he developed a limp and could not walk. Doctors feared that he had leukaemia.
"It was a classic presentation for leukaemia but it was not leukaemia," Jen explained. "It turned out that it is a form of histiocytosis.
"At present it is not malignant and all very vague but doctors believe Rory's diagnosis is the first case of its kind in the world."
Jen said the stress and worry were compounded because of Rory's speech problems, so he cannot tell her when he is feeling sick.
"It is when he gets a bad temperature, or starts crying or bangs his head against the wall or floor, we know something is wrong.
"The doctor knows Rory well now and is great with him. But there is no question of us delaying any visit if we feel that Rory is unwell."
Rory also has regular visits to Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin .
Jen and her husband Nigel have two other children, Brendan (11) and Sinead (4), both of whom are healthy. Under the free GP plan Sinead would qualify for free care.