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Last updateSun, 06 Nov 2016 10am

Back You are here: Home Health Health Health Services Guidelines for Medical Card

Guidelines for Medical Card

Under 66
Aged 66-69
Single Person Living Alone    
Single Person Living with Family    
Married Couple/Lone Parent with Dependent Children    
Allowance for 3rd and subsequent children under 16    
Allowance for first 2 children aged over 16 (with no income)    

Dependants over 16 years in full-time non-grant aided third-level 78 euro 65 euro

A medical card issued by a Health Service Executive (HSE) Area in Ireland enables the bearer to receive certain health services free of charge.

If you are issued with a medical card, the card would normally cover you and your dependent spouse and child dependants. (In other words, your dependent spouse and children would normally be entitled to certain health services free of charge also). Medical cards are small plastic cards (similar in size to a credit card). Everyone in Ireland that is over 70 years that is normally resident in Ireland, is entitled to a medical card regardless of means.

Unless you have a medical card, visits to family doctors in Ireland are not free. The GP Visit Card was announced in 2005 as a new initiative to assist those who did not qualify for a medical card on income grounds but for whom the cost of visiting a GP was often prohibitively high. Read more about GP Visit Cards here.

What health services are normally covered?
If you have a medical card, you are entitled to free GP (family doctor) services; prescribed drugs and medicines (with some exceptions); in-patient public hospital services; out-patient services; dental, optical and aural services; medical appliances;maternity and infant care services; and a maternity cash grant of 10.16 euro on the birth of each child.

You are free to choose a GP from a panel of participating doctors. The GP you select must generally have his/her practice within seven miles of where you live. The GP must agree to accept you as a patient. Read more about GP Services for Medical Card holders here.

A full-time student aged 16-25 who is financially dependent on his/her parents will only be entitled to a medical card if his or her parents held a medical card. A student who is financially independent of his or her parents and who satisfies a means test may be entitled to a medical card. A student in receipt of Disability Allowance will generally be entitled to a medical card.

If you qualify for a medical card, you will be given a list of doctors and a Doctor`s Acceptance Form. You pick a doctor from the list and ask the doctor to sign the Acceptance Form, which is then returned to the Health Service Executive (HSE) Area office. Your medical card will show your doctor`s name. The doctor you choose must generally have his or her practice within seven miles of where you live. The doctor must agree to accept you as a patient. It could happen that a doctor would be unwilling to take you on, for example, if he or she already has too many patients, but this is not normally a problem.

Medical card holders are exempt from paying the Health Contribution portion of social insurance. They may also be exempt from paying school transport charges.

Persons with no income other than:

Old Age Non-Contributory Pension (maximum)

Deserted Wife`s Allowance

Infectious Diseases (Maintenance) Allowance

Disability Allowance

One-Parent Family Payment (max.)

Widow`s/Widower`s (Non-Contributory) Pension (max)

Orphans (Non-Contributory) Pension (max.)

Blind Person`s Pension (max.)

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Unemployment Assistance

will be regarded as being eligible for a medical card. Hardship cases are dealt with individually on merit.

In general, if you are getting the maximum rate of a means-tested payment, you will be granted a medical card without having to undergo a further means test. Medical cards are usually granted to children in foster care. Some people may be entitled to a Medical Card under EU Regulations.

Full-time students aged 16-25 who are financially dependent on their parents would only be entitled to a medical card if their parents held a medical card. Students who are financially independent of their parents, e.g., they have income from part-time work, and who satisfy the means test may be entitled to a medical card. In this case, the Health Service Executive (HSE) Area where the student is attending college would issue the medical card. A student in receipt of Disability Allowance will generally be entitled to a medical card.

Lone parents with dependants are assessed under the income limits for married persons.

Patients who qualify for a medical card under the increased income limits for those aged 70 or over will be able to remain with their current GP only if that GP applies for a limited Primary Care Re-imbursement Service (formerly known as General Medical Services) contract.

You can use your medical card for up to three months if you are living temporarily in a different area. In this case, you can attend any GP in the area participating in the medical card scheme. If you are going to be away longer than three months, you should apply to the Health Service Executive (HSE) Area office of that area, for a medical card. If you move to a different part of your own HSE Area, you can apply to change your doctor.

Reasonable expenses incurred in respect of childcare costs and rent/mortgage payments will also be allowed. Weekly travel costs to work (the actual cost of public transport or mileage at .50 cent per mile) are also allowed. (There is however, no exact definition of what `reasonable expenses` actually constitutes in relation to housing or childcare costs).

Assessments for medical card purposes for couples are on the basis of the age of the older person.

All persons aged 70 years and over are entitled to a Medical Card irrespective of income. This medical card which is not means tested, covers the applicant only, and does not cover dependents.

    In the case of a married couple where one spouse is aged over 70 years and the other spouse is aged under 70 years, the spouse under age 70 will be subject to the income guidelines. For couples aged between 70-79 years, the limit is 596.50 euro. For married couples aged 80 years or over, the limit is 627.00 euro.

How to apply
Get application form MC1 and a list of participating doctors from the health centre or Community Care Office for your area. Alternatively, you may download a medical card application form. Complete it and bring it to the doctor you have chosen from the list of participating doctors. If the GP accepts you as a patient, he/she signs the form. Your employer also has to sign the form and certify your earnings or if you are claiming a social welfare payment, the form has to be stamped at the Social Welfare Local Office. Self-employed people have to submit their most recent Tax Assessment Form and audited accounts.


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