IMO welcomes European Commission report that finds prescription charges and co-payments by patients are inequitable and inefficient
GPs warn many patients are not taking medicine they need due to financial constraints
Thursday, 14 August 2014. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) welcomes the publication of a report from a European Commission Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health.
The report’s findings support the IMO’s position that co-payments, including prescription charges, are a barrier to good health and a regressive policy that should be reversed.
The report states that:
“As a means of raising revenue they (user charges) are both inequitable and inefficient in comparison to pooled funding. As a means of moderating demand, they are constrained by the fact that they do not have a selective effect between necessary and unnecessary treatment.”
Speaking today, Dr Ray Walley, Chair of the IMO GP Committee, said:
“The IMO has long called for the reversal of prescription charges as we can see evidence on a daily basis that patients are not complying with the advice of their doctors in terms of medication due to financial constraints.”
Dr Walley said GPs are being approached by patients constantly for advice on ceasing to take medicines on cost grounds.
“It is unacceptable that so many patients, who cannot afford to take all the medicines they need are asking what their most important medicines are and which ones they can do without”.
“There is an increasing body of evidence to show that co-payments, such as prescription charges, actively deter patients from using appropriate care. Co-payments disproportionally penalise the sickest and most vulnerable groups.”
The IMO is concerned with recent speculation that the promise of GP Care which is free at the point of access may come at a price to patients in the form of co-payments.
Dr Walley said:
“We have long called for a GP service which is free at the point of access but this needs to be planned and properly resourced.
Introducing a system with co-payments will lead to inequity, restricted access and put in place a barrier to care.
The most equitable way to ensure the system has proper resources is to bring in groups based on income levels that are most in need of support.”