What free healthcare is my child entitled to in Ireland?

Learn more about your child’s rights when it comes to healthcare in Ireland

Written by Children's Rights Alliance


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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children’s Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

Under the National Healthy Childhood Programme, which is free to all children, Public Health Nurses and Community Health Doctors deliver ‘Child Health Screening and Development Surveillance’ to children from birth to their first year in second-level school (school injections).

What free healthcare will my child receive in Ireland?

Postnatal healthcare 

Under the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme, your GP will examine your baby at two weeks and you and your baby six weeks after the baby was born. Different vaccinations are provided for your child at two months, four months, six months and one year. 

To find out more about these and other postnatal health information see the MyChild website.

School-age healthcare

Every child is entitled to school health services. Children under six or who attend a national school, will get free health examinations. These usually include:

  • immunisations against particular infectious diseases
  • developmental checks
  • visits by public health nurses
  • child welfare clinics
  •  school health examinations.

Private primary schools may ask for the service and the Health Service Executive can decide whether or not to extend the service to these schools.

If any problems are found with your child’s teeth, sight or hearing during the school health check, they will be treated free of charge. Your child also has an entitlement to free dental services up to the age of 15 years, if they are attending school.

Does my child have an entitlement to a medical card?

A child may be entitled to a medical card based on their parents’ or guardian’s income. If your child is in State care or Direct Provision, they will get a medical card. A medical card entitles them to free:

  • hospital care
  • doctor visits
  • medical appliances
  • dental, eyesight and hearing services

You may still have to pay prescription charges even if your child has a medical card.

If a child lives at home and their parent or guardian has a medical card, they will be covered by this card. If a child is between 16 and 25 years of age and is financially dependent on a parent or guardian, they are entitled to a medical card if the parent or guardian has one. If the State pays State Domiciliary Care Allowance for a child, that child is entitled to a medical card.

Does my child have an entitlement to a free GP Visit Card?

All children under the age of six living in Ireland are entitled to receive a free GP Visit Card. This is due to expand to all children under the age of eight in September 2020.

With the free GP Visit Card your child is entitled to:

  • free GP visits
  • assessments at age two and age five
  • GP home visits
  • out-of-hours urgent GP care
  • care for asthma

The card does not cover hospital charges or medication costs. You can apply for the card online or by post. For more information see the HSE website.

For children over the age of six, if their parent or guardian does not qualify for a medical card, they may get a GP Visit Card depending on their circumstances. This will cover the child and let them visit the doctor for free. If a child is over 16, they may qualify for a GP Visit Card in their own name.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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