Bill makes it easier to claim back for medical treatment
PROPOSALS contained in the Finance Bill will make it easier for people to claim tax relief for medical and dental treatments in clinics here .
People could face considerable delays or be turned down for relief if the hospital they were treated in was not on an approved list recognised by the Department of Health.
Under the new proposals, the hospital or clinic in which they received care would no longer have to be on an approved list.
Instead, they will qualify for relief as long as they can prove the treatment was deemed necessary by a health practitioner.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance said this would have relevance for people who have medical treatment abroad.
It will cut down on bureaucracy which could delay payment, and also tie up staff in unnecessary paperwork. People can claim tax relief for maintenance and treatment costs.
Nursing-home residents who pay their fees up front -- and are not part of the Government's Fair Deal scheme -- will also be able to continue to claim tax relief on a more limited basis.
The bill says the nursing-home fees will qualify for relief provided the nursing home provides qualified nursing care on-site on a 24-hour per day basis.
People who make private contributions to their care under the Fair Deal scheme will also be able to claim tax relief.
Cosmetic surgery to enhance appearance is excluded.
However, people can claim relief if the surgery is necessary to correct a deformity which was inherited, caused by injury or a disfiguring disease.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health yesterday said more than 7,000 people had applied for support under the Fair Deal nursing-home scheme.
"I am delighted that so many people have applied for the scheme. However, I am aware that there are many other people who could benefit from applying for the scheme and I would encourage them to do so as soon as possible," junior health minister Aine Brady said.
"The cost of nursing-home care has been a financial burden for older people and their families for too long. The Fair Deal ensures that this burden is alleviated and that the cost of nursing-home care is no longer a source of anxiety."
Under the scheme, individuals make a contribution to the cost of their nursing home care based on their means.
The HSE meets the full balance of cost over and above the individual's contribution in public, private or voluntary nursing homes approved for the purpose of the scheme.
The Finance Minister has also retained the power to turn down an application for medical expenses if he believes the treatment is not appropriate "having regard to public policy".