Friday, January 19, 2018

Accessing healthcare abroad


Question
There is a long wait for a medical procedure that I need. Can I get my medical costs refunded if I have the procedure done in another European country?
Answer
If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA). You will be repaid the cost if you meet the requirements.

This is provided for by the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive. The Directive covers services that are publicly funded and available in Ireland. These include acute hospital services and community-based outpatient care. Other services covered include physiotherapy, ophthalmic, psychology, disability and mental health services. Occupational therapy services and dental and orthodontic services are also covered, but with some exceptions. The Directive doesn’t cover treatments that qualify for the Treatment Abroad Scheme (in general, treatments that are not available in Ireland).  You must be referred to the health service abroad in the same way that you would be referred to public health services in Ireland. This referral may be by your GP (family doctor) or public hospital consultant, for example. They may also be able to tell you whether the service you require is covered by the Directive. You can also check with the National Contact Point (details below).

If the treatment involves an overnight stay in hospital, it will need to be authorised in advance by the Health Service Executive (HSE). For other treatments, you should check whether prior authorisation is required. You pay the costs of treatment and then apply for a refund when you return to Ireland. The amount repaid is either the amount that the treatment would cost in Ireland, or the cost of your treatment abroad, if that is less. It does not include other costs such as travel. The HSE has published refund amounts for different treatments. To get a refund of treatment costs, you and your healthcare provider abroad must complete a HSE form. You then submit it with the healthcare provider invoice and receipt. The HSE provides an invoice format that it recommends using for the invoice to make sure it includes all the required details.

To find out more, contact the National Contact Point: phone (056) 778 4546 or email crossborderdirective@hse.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, January 15, 2018

Know Your Rights: Prescription charges


Question
I have a medical card but I seem to be paying more than the monthly cap for prescription charges for my family. Why would this happen and how can I get a refund?

Answer
If you have a medical card, there is a charge for each prescription item you receive. From 1 January 2018, the prescription charge is reduced from €2.50 to €2.00 per item, up to a maximum of €20 per month per person or family (previously, the maximum was €25 per month). 

Usually your pharmacy keeps records of how much you have paid in prescription charges and makes sure that you do not pay more than the limit each month. However, you may use different pharmacies in the same month, or your family members may not be set up as a family group, and you may end up paying more than the maximum.

If this happens, the Health Service Executive (HSE) will issue a refund without the need for you to apply for it. This is done on the basis of the information received from pharmacies.
You can set up your family as a family group on medicalcard.ie and print off a family certificate to give to your pharmacist. This will show all of the members of your family so that your pharmacy will not collect charges above the monthly limit. Your family is defined as you, your spouse or partner, any children under 16 years of age and any children between 16 and 21 years of age who are in full-time education.

If you do not have access to the internet, you can ask your Local Health Office to help with setting up a family group. You can also call the HSE on 1890 252 919 or ask your local pharmacist, who may be able to help you.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330 
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Know Your Rights: Consumer rights during sales


January 2018

Question
What are my consumer rights when I buy something in the sales? Can I return sales items?
Answer
Your consumer rights during a sale are exactly the same as at any other time of the year. Your rights do not change just because you bought the item in a sale. Goods should be of merchantable quality, fit for their intended purpose and as described. If they are not, you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund.

If you are entitled to a refund because there is a fault with goods that you bought at full price, you should be refunded the amount you paid even if they are now on sale at a reduced price. Shop notices such as "No Refunds" or "No Exchanges" do not limit your rights, if you have a complaint about faulty items. Some shops display these notices, particularly during the sales, but this does not take away your rights under consumer protection law if the goods are faulty.

However, you are not entitled to a refund because you change your mind about something you have bought in a shop, whether this is during the sales or at any other time of the year. Many shops do allow you to exchange goods that you have had second thoughts about, but this is at their discretion. It is a good idea to check the shop's refund policy before buying anything.

If you buy goods at full price but change your mind about them, and they are now on sale at a lower price, you may only be offered the reduced amount (if the shop is willing to offer a refund).  You should always keep your receipts as proof of purchase and the price paid. This doesn't necessarily have to be the shop receipt. You could show your credit or debit card statement (if you used one) or other documentation that proves it was purchased.

For more information, visit the website of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission at ccpc.ie.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Friday, December 22, 2017

Know Your Rights - Buying Goods Online

Question
I have ordered a few presents from a Belgian website. Can I return them if I change my mind when I get them?

Answer
Online purchases from businesses based in the EU are covered by the EU Directive on Consumer Rights. Under this Directive you are entitled to a cooling-off period of 14 days. During the cooling-off period, you can cancel distance contracts such as online purchases without giving a reason and without incurring charges or penalties, other than possible charges incurred in returning the goods. The 14-day cooling-off period begins on the day that you receive the goods.

Upon cancellation, the distance seller is obliged to repay you within 14 days, including delivery costs. If you chose a more expensive type of delivery than the seller’s cheapest standard delivery, you are only entitled to be refunded the cost of the cheaper delivery type.

The seller can withhold the repayment until the goods are returned or until you supply evidence that you have sent the goods back.

You must send the goods back within 14 days of informing the seller of the cancellation. You may have to pay for the cost of returning them. The seller must inform you of such costs before you complete the purchase.  The seller should also have provided you with confirmation of the contract, as well as information on aftersales and guarantees, how to cancel the contract and a postal address for complaints. If the seller did not provide you with information on your right to cancel, the cooling-off period can be extended by 12 months.

Some purchases are not covered by the cooling-off period. These include customised or perishable goods and bookings for transport or accommodation.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330

Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Know Your Rights: Home Renovation Incentive



Question
I am planning to extend my home. How can I claim the Home Renovation Incentive?

Answer
The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme enables homeowners or landlords to claim tax relief on repairs, renovations or improvement work that is carried out on their main home or rental property by tax-compliant contractors and that is subject to 13.5% VAT. It is also available to local authority tenants who have written consent from the local authority to carry out the works.

HRI is paid as a tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure, which can be set against your income tax over 2 years. You must be paying income tax to avail of HRI. You must also be up to date with your Local Property Tax (LPT) obligations.

Your contractor must be registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) in Ireland and be tax compliant. They also have to register the work on the HRI online administration system. If you use several contractors, such as a builder, a plumber and an electrician, you can combine the cost of the works to make up the minimum qualifying expenditure of €5,000 excluding VAT at 13.5%.

Repair, renovation or improvement work subject to VAT at 13.5% all qualify for the HRI, including extensions and attic conversions; supply and fitting of kitchens, bathrooms and built-in wardrobes; fitting of windows; plumbing, tiling, rewiring and plastering. Work subject to VAT at 23% is not covered. Neither are items such as furniture, white goods or carpets.

The work must be done and paid for by 31 December 2018. In general, the credit is paid over the 2 years following the year in which the work is done and paid for. After work starts you should log in to HRI online to check that your contractor(s) have entered details of the work – if they have not, you will not be able to claim the credit. Once the work has been completed, you can claim the HRI credit. You access the HRI online system through Revenue’s myAccount service or through the Revenue Online Service (ROS) if you are registered for ROS.

There is detailed information about HRI on revenue.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Friday, December 1, 2017

Know Your Rights: Christmas Bonus



Question
I am getting a social welfare payment. Will I get a Christmas Bonus this year?
Answer
The Christmas Bonus is paid to people getting a long-term social welfare payment. Long-term social welfare payments include the following:

·         State Pensions and Widow’s/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner’s Pensions
·         Invalidity Pension, Blind Pension, Disability Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Guardian’s Payments
·         Jobseeker’s Transitional payment, One-Parent Family Payment, Farm Assist, Deserted Wife’s Benefit and Allowance
·         Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme, Tús, Gateway, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance and Job Initiative
·         Back to Education Allowance (BTEA), VTOS and Further Education and Training (FET) training allowance (people coming from jobseeker's payments must have been on their payment and/or BTEA or VTOS or FET training allowance for 15 months)

For Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) or Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (BSWA), you must be getting the payment for 15 months to get a Christmas Bonus. However, if you were getting another payment eligible for the Christmas Bonus immediately before claiming JA or BSWA, and your combined time on the eligible payments is 15 months, you will get the Christmas Bonus.  In 2017, the Christmas Bonus will be 85% of your normal weekly payment (including the Living Alone Increase, the Island Allowance and the Over-80 Increase). Fuel Allowance is not included when calculating the Christmas Bonus. The minimum Christmas Bonus payment is €20.

For Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA), which is paid monthly, the bonus is 85% of the weekly payment. The DCA portion of the bonus is calculated independently of other payments. So, for example, if you are getting full-rate DCA for one child, 85% of the weekly payment is €60.70.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, October 30, 2017

Know Your Rights: Benefits for carers


Question
I will need to take time out from work to provide full-time care for my father. What is available for people in my situation?

Answer
There are several entitlements available to you. In order for you to qualify, the person you are caring for (your father) must be in need of full-time care and attention.

If you are working at present and will be taking time off to care, you may be eligible for carer's leave of up to 2 years. You must have worked for your employer for a continuous period of 12 months to qualify for this leave. 
While you are on carer’s leave, you are entitled to get credited social insurance contributions to maintain your PRSI record. 
You are entitled to annual leave and public holidays in respect of the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave. Your employer cannot dismiss you or victimise you for exercising your right to carer’s leave. 
You may also be entitled to Carer’s Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, if you have enough PRSI contributions to qualify. 
If you do not qualify for Carer’s Benefit, you may qualify for a means-tested Carer’s Allowance. If you get Carer's Allowance, you may be entitled to a Free Travel Pass. If you live with the person you are caring for, you may also qualify for the Household Benefits Package.
There is also an annual Carer’s Support Grant of €1,700, formerly known as the Respite Care Grant, which is paid to full-time carers in June each year. Even if you are not getting any other social welfare payment, you can qualify for this grant if you fulfil the conditions.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below. 
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330 
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000