Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Questions (27, 32, 36)

John Browne

Question:

27. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health the number of over 70s who have had their medical card withdrawn following on the changes announced in the past two budgets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21265/14]

View answer

Michael Moynihan

Question:

32. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health if the targeted withdrawal of 55,000 medical cards from the over 70s announced in the past two budgets has been achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21260/14]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

36. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the number of over 70s that have now lost their medical card as a result of legislative changes in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21255/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 32 and 36 together.

Following Budget 2013 decisions, changes to the gross income thresholds for over 70’s medical cards were effective from April 2013. The changes also provided for those over 70's medical card holders, whose income fell between the revised income limits and the preceding income limits, to receive a GP visit card instead of a medical card in order to ensure that persons retained access to their GP. The income limits were set at €600 per week for a single person and €1,200 per week for a couple for an over -70s medical card and €700 per week and €1,400 per week, respectively, for an over-70s GP visit card.

Changes announced under Budget 2014, reducing the gross income limit for an over-70s medical card to €500 per week for a single person and €900 per for a couple, came into effect on 1st January 2014. It was estimated that this Budget 2014 change would affect about 35,000 out of a total of 350,000 over-70s medical card holders. The income limits for the over-70s GP visit card were not adjusted, in order to ensure that these persons retained access to their GP.

In 2014, the HSE has written to about 53,000 over-70s persons advising them that their eligibility for a medical card is under review in line with the new income limits, based on data from the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners. As recipients of review correspondence have a number of months in which to respond, the results from these reviews are not yet available.

It is not possible to project precisely potential card changes as the granting and retention of a medical card or GP visit card for a person over 70 years of age is subject to an individual assessment and review process in accordance with the guidelines. A review of existing card holders can result in renewal, change or removal of eligibility as a result.