Press Release

Varadkar & Lynch confirm children under 18 years of age with cancer to get medical cards

The HSE has accepted a recommendation of the Clinical Advisory Group to extend medical card eligibility to all children under the age of 18 years with a diagnosis of cancer without a means-test.

Welcoming the move Minister Varadkar said: “This move recognises the burden which is placed on a family when a child is diagnosed with cancer.   Our ultimate goal is to provide universal healthcare for the entire population in stages.  At the moment we are widening access to free GP care based on age groups, like under sixes from today and those aged seventy plus from next month. But at the same time we are also widening discretion for medical cards including childhood cancer today, and improving the management of chronic illnesses in the community like asthma and diabetes. There are more discretionary medical cards in circulation than ever before.”

Minister Lynch said: “Our health system has become more responsive to the needs of our population.  This decision arises from measures that we announced to improve the operation of the medical card scheme and to make it more sensitive to people’s needs, especially where serious illness is involved.  The number of discretionary medical cards has increased by 67% from 52,000 in mid-2014 to 87,000 by mid-2015. Giving medical cards automatically to children with a cancer diagnosis allows their parents to focus on their treatment and care without the uncertainty about their entitlement to a medical card. ”

The Clinical Advisory Group was established by the Director General of the Health Service Executive on foot of the Report of the Expert Panel on Medical Need for Medical Card Eligibility, to provide clinical oversight and guidance to the operation of a more compassionate and trusted medical card system. The Clinical Advisory Group reports to the HSE’s National Director of Primary Care on a quarterly basis. The Group is continuing its consideration of the strengthening of the assessment process to provide for the measurement of the burden of disease.