6 June 2002 Edition

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TD calls for Medical Card extension

The new Programme for Government shuld extend the Medical Card scheme to people on the minimum wage or under 18 and in full-time education, says Dublin South-West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe.

He was speaking after new Central Statistics Office figures showed that more than a quarter of the population is without either a medical card or private health insurance cover.

The figures, based on a survey on health last year, also showed that almost one-fifth of those questioned had consulted their GP in the previous two weeks.

Almost 26% of those aged 18 and over were covered by a medical card while a further 46% said they had private health insurance; just 2% had both.

About 10% of employed people said that they were holders of medical cards. This compared with 47% of unemployed people and 54% of people not economically active. By contrast, almost 57% of the employed had health insurance.

Almost 20% of adults on outpatient waiting lists had been waiting for six months or more and 7% had been on a waiting list for over a year. Holders of medical cards waited for longer.

"The new Programme for Government should extend medical cover, remove the two-tier health system and establish a single waiting list that ensures access to treatment on the basis of need," said Crowe. "It is the right thing to do and makes sense for the people's future health."

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