Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means. The Act provides that persons who are unable, without due hardship, to arrange GP services for themselves and family can qualify for full eligibility (a medical card). The HSE awards medical cards in accordance with the Health Act, and assesses applicants on the overall financial situation of the applicant and his or her spouse or partner.
It should be noted that people who have been in receipt of certain allowances or benefits (including Illness Benefit, Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance and Blind Pension) for a continuous period of 12 months or more are entitled to keep their medical card (without means testing) for three years on taking up full/part time employment from the date on which the employment commenced.
Every effort is made by the HSE, within the framework of the legislation, to support applicants when re-applying for a medical card and, in particular, to take full account of any difficult circumstances in the case of applicants who may be in excess of the income guidelines. In relation to costing the permanent retention of medical cards by persons in receipt of disability allowance who subsequently move into employment, the data required to model this is not readily available and it is therefore not possible to provide an estimate of the cost of the proposal.