Emergency medical cards

Introduction

An emergency medical card is a medical card that is issued without a means test in certain emergency situations.

You can get an emergency medical card if you:

  • Have a terminal illness and have been told you have 24 months or less to live or
  • Are receiving end-of-life treatment or
  • Need urgent ongoing care and urgently need a medical card

Rules

Only a healthcare professional (for example, a doctor or consultant) can apply for an emergency medical card for you.

Terminal illness

You can get a medical card if you have a terminal illness and have been told you have 24 months or less to live.

Your hospital consultant will send a Terminal illness medical card application form (pdf) to the HSE stating that you have a terminal illness and have 24 months or less to live.

Your medical card number will be active on the system within 24 hours of your application being processed. You can access medical card services while you wait for your card in the post.

Your medical card will never be reviewed and it will not expire.

If you are receiving end-of-life treatment

You will get a medical card if you have a terminal illness and you are receiving end-of-life treatment. End-of-life treatment means you have been told you have less than 12 months left to live.

Your social worker, consultant or GP will send the HSE a medical report and an End-of-life treatment medical card application form (pdf). A medical officer will process the application straight away.

Your medical card number will be active on the system within 24 hours of your application being processed. You can access medical card services while you wait for your card in the post.

Your medical card will never be reviewed and it will not expire.

If you need urgent ongoing care

You can get a temporary medical card for 6 months if you need urgent ongoing care and need a medical card sooner than the normal processing time.

Your social worker, consultant or GP will send a medical report and a completed application form (pdf) to the HSE.

If your application is approved, it can take 10 days to get your emergency medical card in the post. However, your medical card number will be active within 24 hours of your application being processed, so you can get the care you need.

You will need to apply for a standard means-tested medical card before your emergency medical card expires. The HSE will write to you to remind you to do this.

Further information

Only a healthcare professional can apply for an emergency medical card for you. They must send a detailed medical report with an application form including your diagnosis, planned treatment and the prognosis (outlook).

If you have a terminal illness and have been told you have 24 months or less to live, they only need to send a completed application form. A medical report is not required.

For more information phone the National Medical Card Unit on (051) 595 129 or Locall 1890 252 919.

Page edited: 22 March 2021