Medical card drugs to carry 50c charge
Drugs prescribed for 1.5 million medical card holders will carry a 50c-per-prescription charge from later this summer, it was confirmed yesterday.
Health Minister Mary Harney published the legislation, which will mean that medical card holders -- who currently get all drugs free -- will for the first time pay the small fee to the pharmacist.
It was announced in the last Budget that people in the Long Term Illness Scheme would also pay the charge, but the new legislation exempts them from the levy.
The measure will affect thousands of patients as the numbers qualifying for a medical card have shot up to 1.54 million this month, representing around 35pc of the population.
This is a 21pc increase in numbers in receipt of medical cards since January 2008 and a 35pc rise since January 2005 due to more people losing their jobs.
Apart from raising income for the Health Service Executive, which is €100m in the red already this year, the aim is to cut down on needless prescribing of drugs and medicines such as antibiotics that patients will not use.