Imelda Munster TD is outraged at recent HSE correspondence to haemochromatosis patients who attend the venesection clinic in Louth advising that from 1st September 2017 a charge of €80 per visit would begin with a maximum charge of €800 annually.
The Sinn Féin TD said: “Whilst medical card holders are exempt from this levy, it puts an unfair burden on people who have been diagnosed with this condition. The financial means of these patients are not taken into account, though they may be just over the limit required for access to a medical card”.
Imelda Munster explained that “Haemochromatosis is a life-long chronic illness and patients need regular venesections (the taking of blood) to keep their iron levels in check and to remain healthy.
“This charge of up to €800 a year could well prevent people from attending the venesection clinic which in turn will lead to patients potentially suffering from cirrhosis of the liver due to the build-up of iron, and other serious health problems.
“Given that this is a life-long chronic illness, it needs to be designated under the Long-Term Illness scheme. The health system doesn’t take into account a person’s ability to pay. The income thresholds for qualifying for a medical card are relatively low, and for people who sit just above that limit, this is an unfair and exorbitant charge.
“I have written to the Minister asking him to include haemochromatosis on the Long-Term Illness scheme so that people who require this ongoing treatment are not deterred from accessing it due to financial hardship. I hope that the Minister realises that this is an equality of access issue, and that the current situation is not fair for patients who are struggling to pay for this necessary treatment.”