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Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 547 No. 4

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 150. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  if he will allow medical card holders who are solely in receipt of social welfare, and whose income has exceeded the income guidelines for medical cards, to retain medical cards; if he has notified chief executive officers of this; if so, if the notification was verbal or written; if the ruling will discriminate against other people not in receipt of social welfare whose income exceeds the guidelines; if they can receive a medical card; and if he will issue a directive to the chief executive officers to this effect. [3868/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Entitlement to health services in Ireland is primarily based on means. Under the Health Act, 1970, determination of eligibility for medical cards is the responsibility of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board. Other than for persons aged 70 years and over who are automatically entitled to a medical card, medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the chief executive officer, are unable to provide general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants without undue hardship.

Income guidelines are drawn up by the chief executive officers to assist in the determination of a person's eligibility and these are revised annually in line with the consumer price index. However, the guidelines are not statutorily binding and even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, a medical card may still be awarded if the chief executive officer considers that his or her medical needs or other circumstances would justify this. It is open to all persons to apply to the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board for health services if they are unable to provide these services for themselves or their dependants without hardship.

The issue of eligibility was considered in the context of the new national health strategy, Quality and Fairness, A Health System For You, launched by the Government. The strategy outlines a number of measures designed to [1620] improve eligibility for health services which the Government has committed itself to introducing over a number of years. Among the measures proposed is an increase in access to medical cards. In addition to the recent extension of eligibility to all persons aged 70 years and over, the strategy includes a commitment that significant improvements will be made in the income guidelines in order to increase the number of persons on low incomes who are eligible for a medical card and to give priority to families with children and particularly children with a disability.

My Department advised the health board chief executive officers in writing last year and again this year that medical card holders should not lose their cards because of increases in social welfare rates announced in the budget.

 151. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  if he has increased the income guidelines for medical cards in 2002; and if so, the details of same. [3869/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Entitlement to health services in Ireland is primarily based on means. Under the Health Act 1970, determination of eligibility for medical cards is the responsibility of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board. Other than for persons aged seventy years and over who are automatically entitled to a medical card, medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the chief executive officer, are unable to provide general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants without undue hardship.

Income guidelines are drawn up by the chief executive officers to assist in the determination of a person's eligibility and these are revised annually in line with the consumer price index. However, the guidelines are not statutorily binding and even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, a medical card may still be awarded if the chief executive officer considers that his or her medical needs or other circumstances would justify this. It is open to all persons to apply to the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board for health services if they are unable to provide these services for themselves or their dependants without hardship. The medical card income guidelines for 2002, drawn up by the chief executive officers of the health boards are:

Medical Card Income Guidelines

Effective from 1 January 2002

(Gross income less PRSI deductions)

Per week
Single person living alone (under 66) €132.00
Single person living alone (66-69) €144.00
Single person living alone (70-79) €285.00
Single person living alone (80 or over) €300.50

[1621]

Per week
Single person living with family (under 66) €117.00
Single person living with family (66-69) €124.00
Single person living with family (70-79) €246.50
Single person living with family (80 or over) €258.00
Married couple (under 66) €190.50
Married couple (66-69) €214.00
Married couple (70-79) €427.00
Married couple (80 or over) €449.00
Allowance for each child under 16 €24.00
Allowance for other dependants €25.00
Allowance for house expenses:
(e.g. rent, mortgage) – in excess of
€24.00
Allowance for cost of travelling to work:
Cost allowed per week over
€21.00


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