The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has announced that, with effect from today, public in-patient charges for children under 16 years have been abolished in all public hospitals.
Currently, public patients (including children) are subject to a statutory public in-patient charge of €80 per night, up to a maximum of 10 nights (€800) in a 12-month period. Medical card holders and other certain specific classes of persons are exempt from these charges. Legislative amendments were required to the Health Act 1970 to abolish the public in-patient charge for children under 16 years of age. Funding was provided in Budget 2022 for measures to alleviate the financial burden of statutory hospital charges incurred for children accessing care in a public hospital.
The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No.2) Act 2022 which was signed into law on 18th July 2022, removes the acute public in-patient charge of €80 per day (including day-case charges) for children under 16 years of age in all public hospitals. Following the enactment of the legislation before the summer recess, the Minister for Health signed the Commencement Order providing for the removal of charges from today.
Minister Donnelly said:
“Better access, together with affordability and improved quality are amongst my top priorities in healthcare. Therefore, I am delighted to announce that from today, children under 16 will no longer be charged when accessing public in-patient care as a patient in our public hospitals. This significant change to healthcare provision in Ireland is focused on easing the financial burden of parents or guardians when bringing their child to the hospital for in-patient care.
“In the context of current cost-of-living challenges, this is another important commitment by the Government towards affordability, as it will make our public hospitals free for children when they require access to treatment as a public patients. This initiative builds on the introduction of free contraception for women aged 17-25 that I launched last week.
“My overall goal as Minister for Health is to help ensure that care is accessible and affordable and that cost is not a significant consideration when people need access to in-patient treatment and healthcare more generally.”