General Medical Cards allow access to family doctor / GP services. The entitlement includes
- visits to the doctor from a choice of doctors who contracted the HSE in the person\’s area,
- prescriptions, medicines, aids and appliances subject to a €2.50 prescription charge,
- certain dental, eye and ear health services,
- hospital care, including inpatient services in public wards in public hospitals and public consultant services.
- outpatient services in public hospitals,
- medical and midwifery care for mothers,
- certain personal and social ] care services, including public health nursing, social work services and community care services based on need.
The Medical Card carries
- entitlement not to pay the health portion of social insurance contributions,
- exemption from state examination fees in public second-level schools,
- financial help with schoolbooks,
- and free transport for children who live more than 3 miles from the nearest school.
The prescription charges on Medical Cards were introduced in 2010. They are €2.50 per item/ per medicine and a prescription as of 1 December 2013. . The maximum is €25 per month per person or per family.
GP Visit Cards
GP Visit Cards entitle individuals and families to visit family doctors free of charge. Prescribed drugs, medicine, and other services are not covered. A person holding a card may also apply for Drug Payment Scheme Card, which will cap drug payments as set out below.
The income thresholds for GP Visit Cards are higher than Medical Cards and have more generous allowances. If a person is not qualified for a Medical Card, he may qualify for a GP Visit Card, and this will be assessed sequentially.
A GP Visit Card may be granted on the basis that medical costs cause undue hardship, such as where there is an ongoing medical condition that requires regular medical treatment and visits to the doctor. Other exceptional grounds may be considered. The card is reviewed periodically.
Refusal of a card may be appealed to the Appeals Office HSE.
Drug Payment Scheme
The Drug Payment Scheme provides that an individual or family is reimbursed the cost of prescribed drugs and medicines and certain appliances incurred of over €144 a month for that person and family. The scheme is available to persons ordinarily resident in Ireland. Family includes adults, spouses, and children under 18 or over 18 and under 23 in full-time education. There is no means test.
The applicant must hold a PPSN number. It is not necessary to register with a particular pharmacy. Refunds are applied through the HSE. The DPS scheme card is issued. The refunds are at the approved HSE prices.
Over 70s Card
Persons over 70 may be entitled to an over 70s Medical Card based on a much more generous means test. The income thresholds are €500/€900 (per week (€900 a couple) for a Medical Card and €500/€700 or €900/€1400 for a GP Visit Card.
There are rules for the calculation of income. Savings of €36,000 (€72,000 for a couple) are taken into account at a capitalised value. The above figures are weekly income figures.
Long Term Illness
Persons with certain long-term illnesses or disabilities may benefit from the Long-term Illness Scheme. This permits the supply of drugs, medicine, and appliances relevant to the illness to be supplied free of charge. irrespective of means. It is available to cover certain serious conditions.
A Long term Illness book is provided, describing the type of quantity of drugs and medicines that are needed. It must be signed by the doctor and submitted to the pharmacy.
There is a special scheme for persons who have contracted Hepatitis C through the administration of blood products in Ireland. A special HAA card is issued. The Health (Amendment Act card grants entitlement to GP services, prescribed drugs and a range of other services. It does not apply to family members.
Blind/ Visual Impairment
There are a number of schemes available for persons with disabilities. The blind welfare allowance is a means-tested payment from the HSE for persons who are blind or visually impaired.
The National Council for the Blind of Ireland registers blind and visually impaired persons. There is a threshold for qualification. The blind allowance is €58.50 pounds for a single person, and €4.40 for a supplement child dependent in 2013
A person who is in receipt of a blind person\’s pension from the Department of Social Protection or obtaining income, maintenance or equivalent payment. who is registered as blind may qualify. It\’s not available to persons in long-term residential care facilities.
A Mobility Allowance Scheme was closed in February 2013. The government is devising an alternative scheme for persons with mobility needs. The Motorised Transport Grant was similarly terminated.
The Rehabilitation Training Allowance is administered by payment of €31.80 per week for persons in training and sheltered workshops. They retain their Social Welfare payments, usually Disability Allowances.
The Scheme was transferred to the Department of Social Protection in 2012. Vocational training is provided by Solas, the vocational training authority.
The Domiciliary Care Allowance is administered by the Department of Social Protection. It is a monthly allowance paid to a parent or guardian of a child under 16 with a serious disability which requires continuous care and attention.
The condition is ongoing and lasts more than a year. Eligibility is reviewed from time to time. It is not means-tested. The personal means of the child only are taken into account. The allowance is not available for children who are resident in residential school care or centres. Part-time residents may be eligible.
Community Welfare Services
Community welfare services are dealt with in the section in relation to social welfare. They include the following:
- rent supplement,
- mortgage interest supplement,
- diet and eating supplements,
- back-to-school clothing and footwear scheme.
CWOs are available in 51 Intreo Centres across the country to meet and assist customers during business hours, five days per week.
There are administered by Community Welfare officers. Community Welfare Officers are now engaged by the Department of Social Protection. They were formerly employed by the HSE and usually operate from HSE centres.
Community Welfare officers hold a number of clinics weekly. They will actively engage with other agencies and voluntary organisation as appropriate to a client\’s need. Assessment may involve a home visit and/or interview.
The diet and eating supplement may be available for a person with a prescribed medical condition in receipt of social welfare payments and satisfying a medical test. A hospital consultant or registrar must certify that an adult or child dependent has been prescribed a diet because of specified conditions. Specified rates or payments apply in respect of particular types of special dietary needs.
A heating supplement may be available as an additional weekly payment if a person can show extra eating needs due to age, medical condition or disability, satisfy a means test, or is living alone or only with a dependent adult or child.
The rent supplement is paid to persons in private residential accommodation who meet certain means tests. See the separate section in that regard.
The back-to-school clothing and footwear scheme may be available to persons receiving social welfare payments, family income supplements or HSE payments. The household income must be below certain thresholds. The income threshold depends on the number of children.
The HSE has operated HSE National Lottery Grants for distribution to community-based groups and voluntary organisations for respite care grants. The schemes were operated periodically and were closed in 2013.