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Long Term Illness Scheme


People suffering from certain conditions can get free drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances for the treatment of that condition. These are provided under the Long Term Illness Scheme. This scheme is administered by the Health Service Executive (HSE), under Section 59 of the Health Act 1970.

The Long Term Illness Scheme does not depend on your income or other circumstances. You may also be eligible for a Medical Card or GP visit card, depending on your circumstances.


The medical conditions that qualify under the Long Term Illness Scheme are:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Mental illness (for people under 16 only)
  • Diabetes insipidus
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Haemophilia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Epilepsy
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spina bifida
  • Muscular dystrophies
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Parkinsonism
  • Acute leukaemia
  • Conditions arising from use of Thalidomide

If you qualify, you will get a long-term illness book. This book lists the drugs and medicines for the treatment of your condition, which will be provided to you free of charge through your pharmacist. You do not have to pay a prescription charge for drugs covered by your long-term illness book. Other drugs and medicines not related to the specified condition must be paid for in the normal way.

If your doctor or occupational therapist prescribes a medical or surgical appliance, it will be supplied to you from your Local Health Office.

Non-medical card holders, non-GP visit card holders and conditions not covered under Long Term Illness

If you have neither a medical card, nor a GP visit card nor a medical condition listed above, you can use the Drugs Payment Scheme to limit your expenses on prescription drugs.

How to apply

You can get an application form from your Local Health Office or download an application form (pdf) and return it to your Local Health Office.

Page edited: 28 July 2015



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Contact Us

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.