Written answers

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Department of Health and Children

Medical Cards

2:00 pm

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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Question 152: To ask the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding and if she will provide data on the number of long-term medical card holders who have had their medical card withdrawn or altered in the past two years (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40897/10]

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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Question 153: To ask the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the income guideline figures for medical cards; if dates are available for the number being refused with income under the €25 a week; if she will report on withdrawal of medical card for a person (details supplied) in their early 60s with severe medical expenses and problems because of €22 a week job pension. [40898/10]

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Independent)
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I propose to take Question Nos. 152 and 153 together.

The assessment of eligibility for a medical card is statutorily a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE) and is determined following an examination of the means of the applicant and his/her dependants. Under Section 45 of the Health 1970, medical cards are provided for persons who, in the opinion of the HSE, are unable without undue hardship to arrange general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants. Under Section 58 of the Health Act 1970, as amended, GP visit cards are provided for adult persons with limited eligibility for whom, in the opinion of the HSE, and notwithstanding that they do not qualify for a medical card, it would be unduly burdensome to arrange GP medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants.

In assessing eligibility, the HSE uses guidelines based on people's means, which includes their income, certain allowable outgoings and the effect of other factors which may impact on people's ability to meet the cost of GP services for themselves and their families. Notwithstanding the above, the HSE may issue a medical card on a discretionary basis, if the applicant would otherwise be caused undue hardship in providing general medical and surgical services for himself / herself and any dependants. The Executive takes all medical issues into account in determining whether or not undue hardship exists.

Attached is a table containing the current income guidelines for medical cards and GP visit cards for persons applying for a medical card under the general medical card scheme.

General Medical Card / GP Visit Card Income Thresholds (Effective from 01-01-2009)
Medical Card Net Weekly RateGP Visit Card Net Weekly Rate
Single Person Living Alone
Aged up to 65 years€184.00€276.00
Aged 66 years and over€201.50€302.00
Single Person Living with Family
Aged up to 65 years€164.00€246.00
Aged 66 years and over€173.50€260.00
Married Couple or Persons living together as Husband & Wife / Single Parent Families with Dependent Children
Aged up to 65 years€266.50€400.00
Aged 66 years and over€298.00€447.00
Allowances
Allowance for first 2 children under 16 years financially dependent on applicant€38.00€57.00
For 3rd and subsequent children under 16 years financially dependent on applicant€41.00€61.50
Allowance for first 2 children over 16 years financially dependent on applicant€39.00€58.50
For 3rd and subsequent children over 16 years financially dependent on applicant€42.50€64.00
For a dependant over 16 years in full-time education and not grant-aided€78.00€117.00
Additional guideline allowances will be given for: Reasonable expenses incurred in respect of rent/mortgage payments; Reasonable expenses incurred in respect of childcare costs; Reasonable expenses incurred in travel to work. The assessment of eligibility for medical cards will be based on the combined income of the applicant and spouse (if any) after tax, PRSI and Income Levy have been deducted. Applicants whose weekly incomes are derived solely from Social Welfare or Health Service Executive allowances / payments, which are in excess of the Financial Guidelines (either at first application or renewal) qualify for a medical card.

As the HSE has the responsibility for the administration of the General Medical Services Scheme, it is the appropriate body to consider the other issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address these matters and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

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