HealthThis is part 4 of a series of 5

Part 1             

Part 2             

Part 3              

Part 4             

Part 5              

All 5 parts here

  • Primary Medical Cover: A Medical Card entitles you to all health services free. A GP Visit Card covers the cost of visits to the doctor for your family. The means test for these cards is based on net income i.e. after the deduction of tax and PRSI; of reasonable expenses on rent or mortgage; on travel to work; on childcare and of regular weekly out-of-pocket medical expenses. Savings are valued in the same way as for non-contributory OAP. The cards will be granted if your remaining income after these deductions does not exceed the following guideline for 2015:

Medical Cards


Medical Card

GP Only


Under 66

66 and over

Under 66

66 and over

Single living alone





Single living with family





Married or cohabiting couple





(or single parent)


Additional Allowance for Dependent Children


Medical Card

GP Only


for each of first two children under 16





for third and each subsequent child under 16





for each of first two children over 16





for third and each subsequent child over 16                        





for each child over 16 in full time third





level education (no grant)


The HSE will consider cases outside these guidelines in special circumstances, for example to cover one family member with high medical costs. Medical Card holders do not have to pay exam fees for children. Persons with British or EU pensions, who have no Irish Social Welfare pension, generally qualify for the Medical Card regardless of income. Students will only qualify for a Medical Card in their own right if they have an independent income of at least €164 (this can include a student grant which would not count in the Medical Card means-test).

  • Persons aged 70+ qualify for free GP services if their gross income is between €500 and €700 (for a single person) or between €900 and €1,400 (for a married or cohabiting couple) and qualify for a Medical Card if their gross weekly income is less than €500 per week (single), or €900 (couple).
    • Once either spouse qualifies at 70, both get cover.
    • A surviving partner aged over 70 will be allowed to keep their Medical Card for three years, provided their
      income does not exceed €900 per week.
    • In the means test, the first €36,000 (single), €72,000 (couple) of savings and investments are disregarded. On the balance only the income actually earned will be counted, but a notional rate of 2.3% will be applied if no certificate of interest is supplied.
  • Negotiations are underway to extend free GP cards to children aged under six and all those over 70 who are not already covered.
  • A €2.50 charge per prescription item applies to Medical Card holders (max €25 per month per family). It does not apply to those on the Long-term Illness Scheme.
  • Drug Refund:  Any individual or family can get a refund on the cost of prescribed drugs used in any month in excess of €144 provided the drug is on the government list.
  • General Hospital Entitlements: Everyone is entitled to public in-patient and out-patient hospital services. However, if you see a consultant privately, you will have to pay privately for any test or care arising, unless you give notice that you wish to switch back to join the public waiting list for the treatment.
  • Charges: With the exception of Medical Card holders, and children with long-term ailments or referred from school health examinations, the following charges must be paid in major public hospitals:
    • Casualty and Outpatient €100 unless referred by your doctor or admitted to hospital.
    • Public patients pay €80 per night (up to a max €800 in a year).
    • Private patients pay charges even if they are in public wards. The charges are €329-€407 (day care) and €659-€813 per night (in ward), €800-€1,000 (single room).
  • Nursing Home Support:Under the “Fair Deal” patients seeking a place in either a Private or a Public Nursing Home now have the same assessment of need and the same means-test for payment. The patient will be liable to pay towards the cost of care:
    • 80% of assessable income (i.e. after deduction of tax, PRSI, mortgage/rent and out-of-pocket medical expenses)
    • plus 7.5% of the value of any assets, for a maximum of 3 years. The first €36,000 (single), €72,000 (couple) of assets are disregarded.

A spouse is assessed with half of the couple’s joint income and assets. The HSE can assess assets transferred in the past 5 years. The balance of the cost will be met by the State.

If the assets are in property, the contribution can be deferred until settlement of the person’s estate, but the money owing will be increased by the Consumer Price Index each year. In the case of the family home only, the contribution will be capped at 22.5% (i.e. after three years of care). The deferred charge against the home will not be collected during the lifetime of a surviving spouse or a disabled child. This deferral must be separately requested by the patient, or by a care representative approved by the Circuit Court for a patient who is not capable of making the decision themselves.

  • HOME CARE PACKAGE: can be applied for, where care in the home is necessary either on discharge from hospital, or to keep a person out of institutional care. Eligibilty is based on a Care Needs Assessment and is not based on a means-test or holding a Medical Card.
  • Carer’s Allowance: A person who is living with (or close by with a direct communication system) and giving full-time care to a child on Domiciliary Care Allowance, or to any person aged 16 or over requiring full-time care, can apply for a means-tested weekly Carer’s Allowance of €204 (€239 if carer is 66 or over) plus an annual €1,375 Respite Grant. In the means-test, any weekly income of the carer in excess of €332.50 (single), or half of their own and their spouse’s income in excess of €665 (married) is assessed. The allowance is reduced accordingly. Half rate Carer’s Allowance is payable to persons receiving another Social Welfare payment.
    An additional 50% allowance and full respite grant will be paid to a person caring for more than one incapacitated person. Carers are entitled to free travel in their own right. A carer can take up training or paid employment for up to 15 hours per week. Carers are entitled to credited contributions to keep them in benefit. When they cease caring, they are entitled to go on Back to Work, Back to Education or Community Employment Schemes.
  • Persons caring full time can qualify for €1,375 Respite Grantregardless of means, but persons working over 15 hours or on Jobseeker payments will not qualify.
    • A Carer’s Benefit of €205 based on your Social Insurance can be claimed for short-term absences from work (up to 24 months) for caring responsibilities. It is available to all insurance classes except S and J. Limited work earning up to €332.50 per week is permissible, while claiming this benefit. Your job is protected for the 24-month duration.





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