Press Release

More Medical Cards in Every Region – The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., today (11th March, 2008) published new data showing that the number of people with Medical Cards and GP Visit cards was up in every region of the country since January 2006

More people can now visit the GP free of charge than anytime in the 1990s

Patients benefit from easing of means test

The Minister said,

‘In November 2004, I started the process of increasing funding and easing the means test for medical cards and the new GP Visit Card.

‘I believe it is a success that, through a combination of new GP Visit Cards and full medical cards, over 200,000 more people can now visit the GP free of charge compared to 2005.”

‘Incomes have risen fast and unemployment has been more than halved since the early 1990s, but even so, more people can now visit the GP free of charge since then.

‘I also believe that the new benefit of the GP Visit Card has an important part to play in the range of benefits available to patients. I believe graduated benefits are very useful so that we don’t have ‘all or nothing’ rules in means-tested benefits.

‘I encourage people to apply for the GP Visit Card. The basic means test is 50 per cent higher than that of the Medical Card and it is based on net income after tax/PRSI, rent/mortgage payments, childcare and travel to work expenses. Based on the means test, if people actually qualify for the traditional Medical Card rather than a GP visit card, they will, of course, receive it.’

“People can also use the GP Visit card and Medical Card online calculator on the HSE website. This allows you to enter your details and will give people a guide as to whether they may be eligible for these benefits or not before making a formal application.”

 

Key information released today includes:

As of 1st February 2008, a total of 135,427 more people (1,280,510) have medical cards than in January 2005 (1,145,083).

As of 1st February 2008, a total of 76,094 people held GP visit cards.

The numbers of people with medical cards and GP visit cards is up in every region in the last two years – see attached table for 2006-2007.

More people have medical cards now than any year since 1995.

More people can now visit the GP free of charge than in any year since at least 1991 and before.

In the Health Strategy 2001, the Government committed to making improvements in the assessment threshold in order to increase the number of persons on low incomes who are eligible for the medical card and to give priority to families with children. We have done this.

Since 2005, the basic assessment threshold for the medical card means test has increased by a cumulative 29%, well above the rate of inflation.

The GP visit card was introduced in November 2005 to make sure that people on low or moderate incomes can visit their GP, and bring their children to the GP, free of charge.

The assessment threshold for GP visit cards was originally 25% higher than for the medical card. In June 2006, the differential was doubled to 50%.

Regional statistics 1 Jan 06 – 1 Dec 07

Medical cards regional increases

GP visit cards regional increases