To qualify for a medical card your weekly income must be below a certain figure for your family size. Here we explain the means test for those who are aged under 70. See also other information about the medical card and how to apply.
There are different means test rules for those over 70 years of age.
The assessment of a couple for medical card purposes is based on the age of the older person.
Income, savings, investments and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test. However, there are certain exceptions.
According to the HSE's guidelines, if your income is derived solely from social welfare allowances or benefits or HSE allowances, you should be granted a medical card even though your payment may be in excess of the income guidelines for your age and situation.
There are some categories of people exempt from the means test, including people entitled to a medical card under EU Regulations.
Weekly income limit (gross less tax, Universal Social Charge and PRSI)
|Category||Aged under 66||Aged over 66|
|Single person living alone||€184||€201.50|
|Single person living with family||€164||€173.50|
|Couple, married/cohabiting/civil partners (or lone parent with dependent children)||€266.50||€298|
|Allowance for each of first 2 children aged under 16||€38||€38|
|Allowance for 3rd and each subsequent child under 16||€41||€41|
|Allowance for each of first 2 children aged
over 16 (with no income)
|Allowance for 3rd and each subsequent child over 16 (with no income)||€42.50||€42.50|
|Each dependant over 16 years in full-time third-level education, who is not grant aided||€78||€78|
Reasonable expenses for childcare costs and rent/mortgage payments will also be allowed. Mortgage-related insurance payments are allowable: fire and contents insurance, mortgage protection insurance and associated life assurance. Maintenance payments made are allowable. Nursing home costs are also allowable.
For weekly travel costs to work, the actual cost of public transport is allowable or, if a car is required, mileage at a rate of 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.
If your income is over the limit, the deciding officer will consider whether it would cause you undue hardship if you are refused a medical card. If you think this may apply in your case, for example, if you have high medical expenses, you can include details of your circumstances when you apply.
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 have children under the age of 6 and they are not eligible for medical cards then they will be given GP visit cards for children under 6.
Certain compensation awards:
Certain payments made by the State:
All capital (savings and investments) is taken into account for medical card purposes. However, income from savings, investments or property of €36,000 for a single person or €72,000 for a couple is disregarded.
The value of your family home is not assessed.
For amounts over the disregard limits, interest is taken into account in the means test. A notional assessment of interest is used.
Notional assessment of interest
|Capital||Weekly means assessed|
|First €36,000 (single), €72,000 (couple)||Nil|
|Next €10,000||€1 per €1,000|
|Next €10,000||€2 per €1,000|
|Balance||€4 per €1,000|
Certain specified types of State compensation are not assessable. Prize bonds are included in the amount assessed.
Property (other than the family home) Where land or buildings are leased to another person, the income to be assessed will be the gross income, less any cost necessarily incurred associated with the property and such cost may include insurance premiums, loan/mortgage repayments, maintenance etc.
For land or buildings that are not being used but are capable of being leased or sold, the following assessment options can be used, with the more beneficial option applying to the applicant:
Read more information about the medical card, including how to apply.
The HSE has published Medical Card/GP Visit Card National Assessment Guidelines (pdf).
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.