Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (179)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin


179. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health in view of the announcement in budget 2013, if he will provide the full detail of the new criteria/thresholds to be applied to medical card applications in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56169/12]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Changes to the income limits for medical card applicants over 70 years of age were announced in Budget 2013.

At present, people over 70 are entitled to a medical card if their income is less than €700 per week for a single person or €1,400 for a couple. In line with measures announced in the Budget, the income limits are being reduced to €600 a week for an individual and €1,200 a week for a couple. This will mean that a single person with an income under €600 per week or a couple with an income under €1,200 per week, will still qualify for a medical card. If a single person has an income of between €600 and €700 per week, or a couple has an income of between €1,200 and €1,400 per week, they will qualify for a GP visit card instead of a medical card.

It is estimated that these changes will affect about 20,000 persons out of 360,000 over-70's medical card holders. This is about 5% of the entire over 70's population. Under the new arrangements, it is envisaged that 92% of the over 70's will retain their medical cards. The implementation date will be announced at a later date in 2013.

In relation to medical card applicants under 70 years of age, it is intended to tighten the rules relating to a person’s income and spending that is taken into account when carrying out the means test for the medical card.

A date has not been set for the implementation of these new rules. In advance of that, the Department will develop this proposal in more detail in consultation with the HSE. The new rules and the implementation date will be announced and publicised in advance by the Department and the HSE.