The Irish State provides some everyday medical services free of charge to certain people in Ireland. These services can be accessed for free with cards such as a medical card of GP visit card. If you are of a certain age, make a certain amount of money, or get certain other State benefits, you may qualify for one of these cards.
What is a medical card?
A medical card is issued by the HSE and those people who hold a medical card are entitled to a range of Health Services free of charge. The quickest way to obtain a medical card is to use the online form on the HSE’s website. You will need a printer to print off the application pack.
According to the HSE’s website 97% of medical applications are processed in 15 days. To qualify for a medical card, your weekly income must be below a certain figure for your family size. Cash income, savings, investments and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test.
If you are below the age of 16, your eligibility for a Medical Card will be based on your parent’s income.
Medical card: What health services are normally covered?
If you have a medical card you are entitled to:
- Free GP services.
- Prescribed drugs and medicines- some prescription charges apply.
- Inpatient public hospital services, out patient services.
- Dental optical and aural services.
- Maternity and infant care services.
- Some personal and social care services, like public health nursing, social work services and community care services.
How to apply
You can apply online for a medical card on mymedicalcard.ie. This is the quickest method of obtaining the card.
Medical cards are means tested, which means in order to get a medical card you must complete a form giving information about your earnings (if any). Your savings and any investments you have (such as shares) are also taken into account. Your income must be below a certain limit in order to qualify. If you are below the age of 16, your eligibility for a medical card will be based on your parent’s income.
People aged 16–25, including students, who are financially independent of their parents may be entitled to a medical card if they pass the means test. If they are financially dependent on their parents they are normally only entitled to a medical card if their parents have one.
If you have been refused a medical card and are not satisfied with the decision, you may have it reviewed. Your circumstances may have changed or you may have left out some relevant information from the original application. If you are not satisfied with the review you may make an appeal to the Appeals Office for your HSE Area.
GP visit card
If you are not entitled to a Medical Card you will automatically be assessed for a GP Visit Card. The same application form is used for both the Medical Card and the GP Visit Card. This means that you don’t have to worry about which type of card might best suit you – the HSE will check your eligibility for both cards.
You can apply online for a GP visit card on mymedicalcard.ie
GP Visit card: What is normally covered?
The card entitles you to visit your doctor for free, including out-of-hours GP services. You will still have to pay for prescription medicine and any other health costs.
Who qualifies for a GP visit card?
You must be living in Ireland in order to be eligible for a GP Visit Card.
The income limits are higher for GP Visit Cards, so more people will qualify for this than for a medical card. On September 11 2023, the Irish government raised the weekly income limit for a GP visit card, meaning more people qualify. This income limit will be raised again on November 13 2023. Find out more about the weekly income limits here.
You may get a GP Visit Card if you have chronic health conditions that require frequent doctor visits, even if your income is above the limit.