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National News

U-Turn on Medical Cards
Tuesday, 21st October 2008

Source - HSE :

Questions and Answers

Information provided by the Department of Health and Children

Tuesday 21 October 2008

1. What have the Government announced?

The Government have announced that with effect from 1 January 2009 new income thresholds will apply for medical cards for people aged 70 and over. The existing arrangements will continue to apply until the end of this year.

It means everyone aged 70 or over whose gross income is less than 700 a week (36,500 a year) if single and 1,400 a week (73,000 a year) for a couple can now be sure they will keep their medical card.

2. How many people will keep their cards?

Nearly 95% of those aged 70 or over - about 330,000 out of 350,000.

3. Will you be contacted by the HSE?

The HSE will write to all people aged 70 and over informing them about the new arrangements. Only people who have income above the limits will be asked to reply to the HSE. Everyone else will simply keep their card.

If you know your income is below the limits you don't need to wait for the letter to arrive to be sure you are keeping your medical card.

The HSE will start sending out letters in about two weeks time.

4. Will there be a means test?

New applicants after 1 January 2009 will be subject to a means test to determine if their income is under 700/1,400 a week.

5. What does income mean? Is it gross income or net income?

It is gross income, i.e. income before tax or other deductions. It is easier for people to know what their gross income is.

6. What about savings?

It is only the income from savings that matters, not the savings. Savings up to the first 36,000 (for a single person) and 72,000 (for a couple) are not counted.

7. What happens to people whose income is above the limit?

The HSE will write to everyone aged 70 or over. People whose gross income is above 700/1,400 (single/couple) a week will have to declare this to the HSE.

Depending on their personal circumstances, some people above the income limits may still get a medical card under the discretionary scheme.

People who do not get a medical card under the new arrangements, will not be entitled to use their existing cards after 31 December 2008.

8. What about someone who will turn 70 after 1 January 2009?

They will be able to apply for a card in the normal way and will get a medical card if their income is below the 700/1,400 threshold.

9. What about someone who is under 70 now and married to someone over 70?

If one member of the couple is aged 70, they will both qualify for a medical card if their income is below 1,400 a week.

Last updated on:21 / 10 / 2008

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