Medical Cards entitle people on low incomes to free medical care and a range of medical services. Medical Cards are issued by the local Health Service Executive (HSE) office. You will qualify for a medical card if you pass a means test.
A medical card entitles you to:
• Free GP (family doctor) services
• Prescribed drugs and medicines*
• In-patient public hospital services and out-patient services
• Certain medical appliances
• Dental, optical and aural services
• Maternity and infant care services
*All medical card holders have to pay a charge of €2 per item dispensed by pharmacists. From 1st April 2019 medical card holders over the age of 70 pay a charge of €1.50 per item and the monthly maximum will be €15.
If you are solely dependent on Social Welfare payments, and have no other assessable means, you will usually pass the means test for the medical card. Medical Cards can be issued on hardship grounds even if a person’s income exceeds the income guidelines.
Each application is considered on its own merits, so if your income is more than the guidelines and you have specific hardship circumstances, you should still apply giving as much detail and evidence of your circumstances as possible. The means test guidelines, still under review, based on gross income less PRSI, are as follows:
MEDICAL CARD INCOME GUIDELINES:
Single person under 66 living alone €184.00
Single person under 66 living with family €164.00
Couple under 66 (+ Lone Parent) €266.50
+ each child under 16 €38.00 (1st and 2nd) €41.00 (3rd +)
+ each dependent child over 16 €39.00 (1st and 2nd) €42.50 (3rd +)
+ over 16 in full-time third level (not grant aided) €78.00
Reasonable expenses incurred in respect of childcare costs and rent / mortgage payments
will also be allowed. Weekly travel to work costs are also allowed.
Over 70: All persons over 70 are entitled to a medical card subject to a means test. This does not cover their dependants.
• If you are unemployed for 12 months or more you may keep your Medical Card for up to 3 years, in certain circumstances, when you get a job. If you take up full-time employment you will retain your medical card for 3 years from the date you start work. If you take up part-time employment the 3-year period starts from the date your income exceeds the relevant medical card guideline.
• Income from Working Family Payment is not counted when working out if you are within the Medical Card income guidelines.
• If you live in the Republic of Ireland and work in Northern Ireland, you are entitled to a medical card regardless of your income.
• People aged over 70 years with an income of between €500 per week (single) or €900 per week (couple) will no longer be entitled to a medical card but may qualify for a GP Visit Medical Card (see below).
GP Visit Medical Cards
In extending the provision of the medical card scheme a ‘Doctor Visit only’ medical card was introduced. This card entitles you to free visits to your doctor, but you may still have to pay for medication.
GP VISIT CARDS INCOME GUIDELINES:
Single person under 66 living alone €304.00
Single person under 66 living with family €271.00
Couple under 66 (+ Lone Parent) €441.00
Couple 66-69 (+ Lone Parent) €492.00
+ each child under 16 €57.00 (1st & 2nd) €61.50 (3rd +)
+ each dependant child over 16 €58.50 (1st & 2nd) €64.00 (3rd +)
+ over 16 in full time third level (not grant aided) €117.00
Reasonable expenses incurred in respect of childcare costs and rent/mortgage payments will also be allowed