Thursday, 5 December 2019

Questions (296)

Martin Heydon

Question:

296. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the estimated cost of increasing the income thresholds for medical cards and general practitioner visit cards in line with the expected wage inflation set out in the summer economic statement over the next four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51065/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

In accordance with the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for a medical card is determined by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The Health Service Executive (HSE) issues income guidelines to assist in determining entitlement to medical cards/GP visit cards. Any revision to the income thresholds must have regard for Government policy, increases in the Consumer Price Index and other issues which may be relevant.

It should be noted that some changes have been recently made to both medical and GP visit card income thresholds. Budget 2019 made provision for a 10% increase across all GP visit card thresholds, which came into effect from April 1st, 2019. In addition, I announced in Budget 2020 that medical card gross income limits for those over 70 will be increased to €550 per week for a single person aged over 70 (currently €500 per week) and to €1050 for a couple aged over 70 (currently €900 per week), and will apply from July 2020.

With regard to the estimated cost of increasing income thresholds in the manner sought, this information is not readily available at this time. However to ensure the medical card system is responsive and sensitive to people's needs, it should be noted that my Department keeps medical card issues such as existing income thresholds under constant review.