If you do not qualify for a medical card you may be eligible for a GP visit card. A GP visit card allows you to visit a participating family doctor for free.
Unless you have a medical card or a GP visit card, visits to GPs are not free. In order to qualify for a GP visit card, you must meet the eligibilty rules below and be ordinarily resident in Ireland. That is, you must have been, or intend to be, living in Ireland for at least one year. You can read more about entitlement to public health services here. You must also meet specific income guidelines.
Having a GP visit card only allows you to visit your GP for free. Prescribed drugs are not free but may be covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme. The GP visit card does not cover hospital charges. It does cover visits to GP out of hours services. Blood tests to diagnose or monitor a condition are covered.
The Government has announced free GP services for certain age groups: from summer 2015, all children under 6 years of age and and all adults aged over 70 will be entitled to free visits to participating GPs.
Eligibility for the GP visit card is means tested. That is, your income is assessed by the HSE as part of the application process.
The rules for assessing the amount of your income are the same as for the medical card means test for people aged under 70 but the income limits for the GP visit card are higher than the limits for the medical card.
|Category||Aged under 66||Aged 66-69|
|Single person living alone||€276||€302|
|Single person living with family||€246||€260|
|Married or cohabiting couple (or lone parent with dependent children)||€400||€447|
|Allowance for each of first 2 children aged under 16||€57||€57|
|Allowance for 3rd and for each subsequent child under 16||€61.50||€61.50|
|Allowance for each of first 2 children aged over 16 (with no income)||€58.50||€58.50|
|Allowance for 3rd and for each subsequent child over 16 (with no income)||€64||€64|
|Each dependant over 16 years in full-time non-grant aided third-level||€117||€117|
There are also allowances for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of childcare costs and rent/mortgage payments.Allowances for weekly travel costs to work are assessed as the actual cost of public transport or, if a car is required, as mileage at 30 cent per mile (18 cent per km). Where a couple needs two cars to travel to work, a double allowance applies. The cost of parking can be taken into account.
The rules for assessing the amount of your income are the same as for the medical card means test for people aged over 70 but the income limits for the GP visit card are higher than the limits for the medical card.
If you are aged over 70 and have a gross assessable weekly income that is over €500 but not over €700 for a single person (or over €900 but not over €1,400 for a couple where one or both are 70 or over) you can get a GP visit card. If your weekly income is not over €500 as a single person (or not over €900 for a couple) you can qualify for a medical card.
The Government has announced that it will introduce legislation to take effect from Summer 2015, so that GP care will be free to everyone over the age of 70.
When you apply for a GP visit card you will first be assessed for eligibility for a medical card. If your income is over the relevant limit, the deciding officer will consider whether it would cause you undue hardship if you are refused a medical card.
If you don’t qualify for a medical card you are then assessed for a GP visit card. If your income is over the relevant limit, the deciding officer will consider whether it would be ‘unduly burdensome’ for you to pay for GP Services if you don’t have a GP visit card.
If you are over 70 and don’t qualify under the means test for people over 70 you can be assessed under the general scheme means test rules that apply to people under 70. This means that potential hardship arising from a refusal will be taken into account if your income is over the general scheme limits. It also means that your income can be assessed under the general scheme rules. These rules have lower income limits but they include some income disregards and allow for some costs such as rent or mortgage expenses to be taken into account.
If your application for a GP visit card is refused, you will receive a letter from the HSE stating this. The letter will also set out the reasons why your application has been refused. If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may have it reviewed. Your circumstances may have changed or you may have left out some relevant information from the original application. If you are not satisfied with the review you may make an appeal to the Appeals Office of your HSE Area. The contact details will also be contained in your letter of refusal. The Appeals Office will conduct a reassessment of your application. This will be conducted by HSE staff who were not involved in deciding on your original application.
Your entitlement to a GP visit card is reviewed periodically. This is because your circumstances may change. If you don’t return your review form, your GP visit card may not be re-issued.
If you return your review form by the given date but the review process continues past the expiry date of your card, the card’s validity may be extended so that you can continue to use it while the review is taking place. The extension is on a month-by-month basis so it is advisable to contact the Client Registration Unit to confirm that your card has been extended and continues to be valid.
To apply for a GP visit card, you use the same application form as for a medical card. As part of the application process for the GP visit card, your entitlement for a medical card will also be assessed.
You can apply online for a medical card or GP visit card on medicalcard.ie. This is the quickest method of obtaining the card. The completed form will be returned to you.
Otherwise, you can download an application form for a GP visit card and medical card:
Contact Lo-call 1890 252 919 or your Local Health Office for more information on GP visit cards. You can also contact the Client Registration Unit. This is where you return the completed application form to:
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.