The Medical Card Scheme
Whether you pay for health care in Ireland
or not depends on your eligibility for a medical card and a GP Visit card. This
eligibility entirely depends on your personal income and circumstances.
Medical and GP Visit cards are issued by
the Health Service Executive (HSE); applications can be made through your local
HSE health office.
Medical Card Holders
Medical card holders, which include
approximately one-third of the Irish population are entitled to free medical
treatment and drugs from their General Practitioner (GP) and free hospital
services. Everyone aged 70 years or older is entitled to a full medical card,
irrespective of income.
If you hold a medical card, the following
services are available to you free of charge:
- GP services
- Prescribed drugs and medicines
- All in-patient public hospital services in
public wards (including consultant services)
- All out-patient public hospital services
(including consultant services)
- Dental, ophthalmic and aural services and
- Maternity and infant care service. This includes
the services of a family doctor during pregnancy and family doctor services for
mother and baby for up to six weeks after the birth
- Maternity cash grant of €10.16 for each child
GP Visit Card Holders
Certain people in Ireland who do not
qualify for a medical card may be eligible for a GP Visit Card. 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.
GP Visit holders are entitled to the
services of a GP free of charge. Any drugs prescribed by the GP are not free. Any
in-patient public hospital services and out-patient public hospital services
associated with a medical condition are free, but there is a charge for some
Non-Medical Card Holders
If you do not have a medical card, you
will be required to pay for visiting your GP and for prescribed drugs up to a
certain level (€85 per month). You are entitled to free public hospital
services, but may have to pay certain in-patient and out-patient hospital
You are also entitled to subsidised maternity
and infant care services and you may be entitled to free or subsidised
community care and personal social services.
Certain schemes are offered to everyone
without charge, such as combined antenatal care and childhood immunisation. People
suffering from certain illnesses may also qualify for free prescribed drugs and
medicines regardless of their medical card status.