A cancer diagnosis can bring with it a financial burden for both the patient and their caregivers. Each social group is vulnerable. The combined reduction in income along with extra health care costs and associated costs like fuel, heating, travel costs has a wide ranging consequence for the cancer patient and their families. Bills and cost can be hard to manage so it is important to get as much advise and seek assistance as soon as issues arise.

Coping with medical expenses

If you are diagnosed with cancer you are entitled to free tests and treatment in hospital, but you may have to pay something towards your stay in hospital if you don’t have a medical card or health insurance.

Medical cards

Medical cards are usually given to people on lower levels of income, but sometimes a discretionary medical card can be given – even if your income is above the limit. For example, if you have a large amount of medical expenses. For further information on the medical card and how to apply follow this link https://www2.hse.ie/medical-cards/

Health insurance

If you have health insurance, most of the costs will be covered, depending on your plan and the services you use. It’s best to call your insurer to check what you’re covered for, before starting treatment.

Waiver of medical expenses

There is help available if you’re finding it difficult to pay your medical expenses, especially hospital charges. The HSE can reduce or waive (cancel) a charge if it is causing you severe financial hardship. You will need to show the HSE officer how difficult it would be for you to pay the charge. To find out more about this, talk to your medical social worker or contact your local health office. To find your nearest Local Health Office click on this link  https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/lho/

Social welfare payments

There are a number of social welfare payments to help if you are ill. For example, Illness Benefit, Disability Allowance and Invalidity Pension. But remember that it’s up to you to apply for them – you won’t get them automatically. The main entitlements are listed in a booklet: Managing the Financial Impact of Cancer. If you need more information, please contact your local Citizens Information Centre. More information can be found at https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/

Debts and Payments

If you have problem debt, or if you feel like your debts are in danger of becoming a problem, then MABS can help you.

MABS has over twenty years of experience helping people with all kinds of problem debt. Their money advisers work with clients with a wide range of personal debts, including:

  • Mortgage arrears
  • Personal loans
  • Utilities arrears
  • Credit card debt
  • Hire purchases
  • Rent arrears
  • Court fines
  • Catalogue debts
  • Sub-prime loans
  • Legal moneylenders

MABS can be contacted on  Helpline on 0761 07 2000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or more information can be found at https://www.mabs.ie/en/

Information correlated from Irish Cancer Society


Linda Sharp and Aileen Timmons undertook a study looking at The financial impact of a cancer diagnosis. The outcome from this study showed that  a cancer diagnosis can have a significant financial impact for patients and their families. To find out more about this study follow the link