Almost 40 medical cards are restored after appeal
Published 14/06/2014 | 02:30
Around 37 people who lost their discretionary medical card and appealed to the Ombudsman had the benefit restored last week.
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said the agreement related to "live" cases and followed the decision by the Government to suspend the review of these cards.
The office received around 500 complaints about the loss of discretionary cards in the last three years and 350 of these were eligible for investigation by his office after going through the Health Service Executive appeals system.
The Ombudsman said in some cases there was no documentation available from the HSE which would show why the person was originally given a card.
The lack of information related to the years before 2011 when the medical card section was centralised in Dublin. Medical cards were previously handled by local health offices.
In some of the cases handled by his office it was found that the HSE had turned down a person for a discretionary card without fully taking into account all their medical expenses in judging "financial hardship".
In other cases people had lost the card because of the centralisation of the system and the application of consistent criteria nationally.
Meanwhile, Junior Health Minister Alex White said the annual cost to the State of a medical care for someone over 70 was twice that of the average card-holder.
"Given the large number of medical card holders, GP visit card holders, the variety of payment arrangements and the variation in drug costs, a single average annual cost figure in respect of the medical card and GP visit card is not a sufficiently refined measure for analysis," he said in a parliamentary reply.
He said the HSE had estimated that the average cost of services per eligible cardholder in 2012 was around €1,026. This includes an average of €243 paid to GPs and payment to pharmacists of €783 per person who availed of drugs.