As the Deputy will be aware the medical card assessment process is based primarily on a financial assessment and not medical need. The HSE is required to conduct an assessment of an individual's financial circumstances to determine if an individual meets the eligibility requirements before a medical card may be granted. The medical card therefore will only come into effect from the date of approval by the HSE. It should be noted that where particular medical costs arise in advance of any medical card being issued other supports are available to individuals to assist in the cost of medical care. If an individual has registered for the Drugs Payment Scheme he/she will only be required to pay for medication costs up to the value of €124 per month. In addition tax relief on medical expenses that an individual pays for oneself or on behalf of any other person may also be claimed.
It is noted that the HSE can in very particular circumstances issue an emergency medical card for persons in need of urgent or on-going medical care that they cannot afford and for persons in palliative care who are terminally ill. These medical cards are issued within 24 hours of receipt of the required patient details and a letter which confirms the medical condition from a doctor or consultant. With the exception of terminally ill patients, all medical cards, granted on an emergency basis, are followed up with a full application within a number of weeks.