Health and medical services for children
Overview of children's health and medical services in Ireland
If your child is under 18, they can get some health services for free, even if you do not have a medical card.
Your child will be able to get these medical services until they are aged 16, and get some services until they are aged 18.
The free health services for children are usually available as part of:
- Maternity and infant welfare services
- Health services for preschool children
- School health services
- Vaccination and immunisation services
If your child is aged 16 or over, they may give consent to surgical, medical or dental procedures without the consent of a parent or guardian. Read about consent to medical treatment for children.
Free or discounted health services for children
GP visit card for children
If your child is under 8, their visits to the GP are free in Ireland with the GP visit card for children under 8.
If your child is over 8 years, the GP visit card is means tested.
Can my child get a medical card?
Your child may qualify for a medical card if they:
- Are in residential care
- Living in Direct Provision
- Have been diagnosed with cancer within the last 5 years
- Are in foster care
Medical cards for young people over 16
If you are aged 16–25 and dependent on a parent or guardian, you can get a medical card if your parent or guardian has a medical card. (This does not apply if your parent or guardian’s income is above the means test limit and they have a discretionary medical card.)
In the medical card means test, there is an allowance for children aged over 16. This allowance is increased if the child is in third-level education and is not getting a grant.
Prescribed drugs and medicines
Your child’s prescribe drugs and medicines are covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme, up to the age of 18 (or 23 if in full-time education).
A family member of any age can be included in the expenses if they have a physical or intellectual disability or an illness and cannot fully maintain themselves.
Disability services for children
If you are caring for a child with a disability, you can find a list of children's disability services for children and young people up to 18 years on our page on caring for a child with a disability.
Mental Health Services for children
If your child is aged under 18 and experiencing mental health difficulties, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) may be able to support you. CAMHS provide assessments and treatment for young people and their families who are experiencing mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and self-harm.
You must be referred by your GP to access CAMHS.
The HSE also have a list of other mental health supports for children and young people.
Hospital charges for children
From 21 September 2022 in-patient services are free for children aged under 16 in all public hospitals.
If your child is admitted to a public hospital for treatment of health issues found at child and school health checks, they do not have to pay the usual in-patient public hospital charges.
There are a number of children's hospitals in Ireland. Children’s hospitals provide in-patient services, out-patient services, day care, accident and emergency services and specialist services for children. Entitlement to hospital services is the same in children’s hospitals as in public and voluntary hospitals.
Who do I contact?
Your Local Health Office can tell you about the services that are available in your area.