Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (531)

Catherine Murphy


531. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health if, in cases of persons who have a medical condition that is chronic and extremely unlikely to change for an extended period of time, it is intended to make changes to the rules governing the granting of medical cards to allow medical professionals to indicate such a prognosis to the Health Service Executive and to require the HSE to take such an indication into account before determination. [14924/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), there is no entitlement to a medical card based on having a particular disease or illness (nor has there been previously). The Deputy will also be aware that medical cards are provided to persons who, under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), are, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, unable without undue hardship to arrange GP services and other health services for themselves and their dependants. The assessment for a medical card is, therefore, determined primarily by reference to the means, including the income and expenditure, of the applicant and his or her partner and dependants.

If an applicant's means are above the financial thresholds as set out in the national guidelines, the HSE routinely examines for indications of medical or social circumstances which might result in undue financial hardship in arranging medical services and, exercising discretion, may grant eligibility for a medical card on this basis. Persons who have been granted a medical card under the financial hardship provisions of the medical card scheme are required, when the subject of a review assessment, to submit all relevant and up-to-date details. This is necessary so that the HSE can make a correct determination of continuing eligibility. Where an applicant indicates on a review application that medical evidence has been previously submitted relating to a life-long medical condition, and this has been confirmed by the HSE, the HSE will not request further medical evidence in this regard. The applicant will, however, be required to submit all other information material to a review assessment. There are no proposals to change these processes.