Under 70s means test for medical card and GP visit card
If you are aged under 70 when you apply for a medical card or GP visit card, your situation and your weekly income are reviewed by the HSE to check if you qualify. This may include a review of your financial situation, called a means test.
Your income, savings, investments and property are assessed in the means test, but there are certain exceptions. If you have a spouse or partner, the HSE looks at your combined finances.
There are some groups of people who qualify without a means test (see table below). If you are not in one of these groups, your income is reviewed by the HSE and must be below a certain amount to qualify.
Medical cards if you are over 70
This page explains the means test for people aged under 70 – how it is carried out, what income is included and what income is excluded.
People aged over 70 have a different means test assessment for the medical card. It has different rules and higher income limits.
If you do not qualify under the means test for people over 70 you can be assessed under the general means test rules explained here.
GP visit cards
If your income is above the limit for a medical card, you are automatically assessed by the HSE for the GP visit card which has higher income limits.
When does the HSE review my finances?
When you apply online, the HSE does a quick review of your finances to check if you might qualify for a medical card or GP visit card. It does a full review of your finances later in the application process when you send them documents to prove your financial situation, for example, payslips.
|Medical card||GP visit card|
|People aged over 70||Means tested||✓|
|Children aged under 8||Means tested||✓|
|People getting Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit||Means tested||✓|
|People with EU entitlement||✓||n/a|
|Children aged under 18, diagnosed with cancer within the last 5 years||✓||n/a|
|People who live in direct provision accommodation||✓||n/a|
|People affected by the drug Thalidomide||✓||n/a|
|Children in foster or residential care||✓||n/a|
|Women who have had a symphysiotomy||✓||n/a|
|Women who were resident in certain institutions||✓||n/a|
|Children whose parents get a Domiciliary Care Allowance||✓||n/a|
How does the means test work?
The HSE has basic rates that vary depending on your age, living situation, marital status and if you have children. If your income is below the HSE basic rate, you will qualify.
Your weekly income is your net income. This is your income after tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge (USC) have been deducted.
Discretionary medical card
If your finances are still above the qualifying limits for both a medical card and GP visit card the HSE can look at your social and medical situation to decide if you would have trouble paying for medical care for you and your family. You can read more about discretionary medical cards.
|Category||Medical card aged under 66||Medical card aged 66-70||GP visit card aged under 70|
|Single person living alone||€184||€201.50||€418|
|Single person living with family||€164||€173.50||€373|
|Couple, married/cohabiting/civil partners (or single parent with dependent children)||€266.50||€298||€607|
|Allowance for each of first 2 children aged under 16||€38||€38||€57|
|Allowance for 3rd and each subsequent child under 16||€41||€41||€61.50|
|Allowance for each of first 2 children aged over 16 (with no income)||€39||€39||€58.50|
|Allowance for 3rd and each subsequent child over 16 (with no income)||€42.50||€42.50||€64|
|Each dependant over 16 years in full-time third-level education, who is not grant aided||€78||€78||€117|
The HSE reviews your weekly income from:
- Wages or earnings (net pay, after you pay tax, PRSI and USC)
- Maintenance payments
- Rental income from property other than the family home, with costs deducted
- Property (other than the family home)
- Interest from capital and savings
- Income from royalties or payments under a settlement, covenant or from an estate
If your only income is from social welfare or HSE payments, you should get a medical card even if your income is over the income limits for your age and situation.
Check the documents you may need.
Income not assessed
- Compensation payments made by the Residential Institutions Redress Board
- Repayments made under the Health (Repayment) Scheme (that is, the Nursing Home repayment scheme)
- Awards made to people who contracted Hepatitis C or HIV from contaminated blood products (together with income from the investment of that money)
- Ex-gratia payments approved by the Lourdes Hospital Redress Board under the terms of the Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme 2007
- Compensation awards payable under the Redress for Women in Certain Institutions Act 2015.
Some payments from the State are not included:
- HSE payments: Mobility Allowance, Blind Welfare Allowance
- Social welfare payments: Working Family Payment, Child Benefit, Carer's Allowance, Domiciliary Care Allowance, Guardian's Payments; weekly supplements (such as a diet or heating supplement) paid under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme; Fuel, Island, Living Alone and Over 80 Allowances
- Other payments: Third-level educational maintenance grants, Rehabilitation Maintenance Allowance, Foster Care Allowance.
Earnings while on Disability Allowance
If you are getting Disability Allowance and working, income you earn up to €427 per week is not taken into account in the means test for the medical card. This does not affect the means test for Disability Allowance.
Savings and investments assessment
Savings, investments or property up to €36,000 for a single person, or €72,000 for a couple, are disregarded.
Interest on savings or investments over the limit is taken into account in the means test.
This means only the interest or income earned on your savings and investments will be counted as income, not the total value of the savings or investments themselves.
How does the HSE assess interest?
The HSE can use the actual rate of interest from your savings and investments if you provide certificates of interest.
If you do not provide certificates of interest, the HSE applies a notional assessment of interest.
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|
Is property assessed?
The value of your family home is not included in the medical card and GP visit card means test.
The value of weekly income from other property is reviewed by the HSE.
Property that is rented
If you have property that you rent out, the rental income is assessed by the HSE. Rental income can include income from renting a room in your family home, a holiday home, leased land or any other property.
Rental income is assessed after deducting mortgage payments and insurance premiums.
Property that is not rented
If you are aged under 70 and have unused land or buildings that you are not renting, but could be leased or sold, the HSE reviews the value of the property as a savings and investment assessment (above).
If you are aged over 70, income will not be assessed from any property that is not generating a rental income.
How is self-employment income assessed?
The HSE will review your most recent Income Tax Return Form 11 and all pages of your Notice of Assessment (NOA) from Revenue.
If you are self-employed and your business has been running for less than one year, you need to provide a set of accounts signed off by your accountant.
If you are self-employed and your business has recently stopped trading, you need to provide a self-declaration letter indicating the date you were last self-employed.
You can also get detailed information from the HSE Medical card and GP Visit Card National Assessment Guidelines (pdf).
Some living expenses are allowable. This means the HSE will add the cost of certain weekly expenses to your basic rate.
This increases your weekly qualifying financial threshold.
Allowable expenses include:
- Rent (not including any amounts paid by Housing Assistance Payment or Rent Supplement)
- Reasonable mortgage payments on your family home and other land or property
- Mortgage protection insurance and associated life assurance
- Home insurance
Childcare and other caring costs
- Childcare costs
- Maintenance payments you make
- Nursing home, private nursing or home care costs for you or your spouse
- Costs of travelling to work including:
- The cost of public transport
- Driving expenses if a car is required, at a rate of 30 cent per mile/18 cent per km. If a couple needs two cars to travel to work, a double allowance applies.
- Reasonable contributions towards carpooling costs.
You can find more information on the medical card and GP visit card on the HSE website. You can find further detail in the HSE Assessment Guidelines for medical cards and GP visit cards.
The HSE has information on financial assessment.