The new eligibility rules for medical cards for persons aged over 70 years,announced in the Budget 2013, will take effect following the enactment of primary legislation. The implementation date will be announced and publicised in advance by the Department and HSE.As is the current situation, the revised thresholds will apply to gross income. It is intended that:-
- persons aged 70 years and over, whose gross weekly income is not more than €600 (€31,200 per annum) in the case of single persons and €1,200 (€62,400 per annum) in the case of couples, will qualify for full eligibility (medical cards).
- persons aged 70 years and over, whose gross weekly income is more than €600 (€31,200 per annum) but less than €700 (€36,400 per annum) in the case of single persons and more than €1,200 (€62,400 per annum) but less than €1,400 (72,800 per annum) in the case of couples, will qualify for GP Visit Cards.
People who lose the medical card will be entitled to make use of the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) which reimburses the cost of medication that exceeds a monthly threshold. There is provision for discretion by the HSE to grant a medical card in cases of "undue hardship" where income guidelines are exceeded and this provision will not be effected. In the case of all reviews and renewals of medical cards, the HSE offer assistances to individuals in assessing their situation underincome limit thresholds, as some may be unsure about their gross income or have concerns or difficulties in relation to self-assessment. This will continue to be case after the legislation is enacted and will be further bolstered by staff in local health offices who provide information, support and assistance to individuals in relation to their eligibility on an ongoing basis. They can also provide information on the current status of a review, being in a position to track the application on the centralised Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) office in Finglas.
The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this particular matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.