Thursday, January 8, 2009

Budget 2008 - Penny pinching at its lowest form

I've been meaning to write a post about this for the last couple of months, since Budget day. As many of you probably know, there is little or no financial assistance for fertility treatment in Ireland. Some fertility clinics make exceptions for medical card holders, but in order to hold a medical card, you need to be on an extremely low income (see details of income limits here). So basically, if you are infertile couple on a middle income in Ireland, you have to foot the bill if you want fertility treatment. Now there is a scheme which limits the amount of monthly expenditure that a household must pay for prescription drugs, so luckily the meds associated with IVF are covered by this. Also, medical expenses are tax refundable, but this is the crux of this post.

Until last year, tax relief on medical expenses was claimable at the higher tax rate of 41%. This was a financial respite of sorts for those unfortunate couples shovelling out literally thousands of Euro on fertility treatment. The average IVF cycle in Ireland costs €3K-€4k. A lot of money when you consider that five in six couples acheive the same result by simply having sex. However, in the last budget, the rules were changed, so that medical expenses are now claimable at the lower rate of 20%. Most middle income earners are in the higher tax bracket. Also, the threshold for monthly prescription drug refunds has been increased from €80 to €100 per month. So the amount of tax relief claimable for consultants and clinic fees for fertility treatment has effectively been halved. I know there is a recession on, and we all have to tighten our belts, but this has to be bean counting in its meanest form.


Kim said...

I am sorry you have this additional challenge to face and I completely relate. Our insurance premiums are $4,800 per year for 2 fertility challenged but otherwise healthy adults. Our insurance won't pay for fertility treatments ore even testing unless my doctor claims she is investigating sypmtoms that could be indicitive of another disease such as cancer. At one time they would not even cover a pregnancy and therefore would not cover the BCPs we foolishly wasted money on. What the hell are we paying our insurance for? And this is just what the government is allowing the private HMOs to do. Don't get me started on government tax deductions and coverage. Ugh. Sorry to vent on your blog. I promise to bitch only on my own in the future.

nutsinmay said...

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Bastards. As if squeezing the middle of the toothpaste tube would suddenly put more toothpaste IN it.

It's a wee bit of a slap in the face with a damp haddock, isn't it?

womb for improvement said...

Ouch, that's a sting. I just assumed that ireland had a form of the NHS. I don't know why.

Mick said...

I can't believe it. I thought that in Ireland most, if not all, of fertility treatments were funded. It's disgusting, but I'll tell you what's also mad. Here in Poland the Catholic Church has such a strong position that Fertility Treatment is almost impossible. Not a penny of it is funded and it's so expensive to go private that only the extremely rich can afford it. The President is dead-set against it. They think it's playing God. There was a debate on TV over here about it last week and it had me frothing at the mouth.

I despair when I look around me at the people and Government that supposedly make our countries better places.

It's enough to make you sick...

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Makes my blood boil that does.

Not just THIS change, but their attitude in general towards infertility treatments.

I'm loathed to say it but I've no doubt the church is still pushing it's weight around regarding political moral policy.

To contrast, here in Holland, you must have mandatory health insurance which seems to equate to about 100 euro a month in costs. You can choose from a whole range of private company's packages, most of which have substantial coverage for the various treatments.

Would it be that bloody hard?

Jane G said...

@ Kim - Holy shit, that is a huge amount of medical insurance to pay. Our medical insurance is paid by John's employers, but unfortunately it doesn't cover my treatment, so tax rebates are the only way of claiming any money back. Hopefully we won't incur as much expense on our treatment this year as last year.

@ May - Total slap in the face!

@ WFI - We have a health service, but mostly it's not free. We have to pay for GP visits, usually EUR 45-50 a pop, and now we have to pay for prescription drugs up to 100 a month. Also if we have to attend A&E in hospital the charge is EUR 100. Which all begs the question what are we paying taxes and social insurance for?

Mick - Yikes , that really is shocking. It's more like them playing God, telling people who can and can't have kids. Thankfully the Catholic Church here don't have quite the strangle hold on the law of the land that they used to have, but I remember what it was like in the 80's in Ireland.

@ Xbox - the church here still make noises about fertility treatment, but they are ignored by most. The mandatory health insurance sounds like a good idea, provided they actually do come up with the treatment when needed.