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Government Schemes Explained

What Health Services are available Free of Charge if I have a Medical Card?


You are entitled to the following services if you have a Medical Card:


Doctor Visits - a range of family doctor or GP services from a chosen doctor contracted to the HSE in your local area;  


Prescription Medicines: The supply of prescribed approved medicines, aids and appliances like wheelchairs, crutches etc. In some     circumstances a deposit may be required for aids and appliances which will be refunded on return of the aid or appliance. A small charge applies to all prescription medicines dispensed to medical card patients;


Certain Dental, Ophthalmic (Eye), and Aural (Ear) health services;


Hospital Care - all in-patient services in public wards in public hospitals, including public consultant services;


Hospital Visits - All out-patient services in public hospitals, including public consultant services;


Medical & Midwifery Care for Mothers, including health care related to pregnancy and the care of the child for six weeks after birth;


Some personal and social care services, for example, public health nursing, social work services and other community care services based on client need.


Drug Payment scheme


Under the Drugs Payment Scheme you have to pay a maximum of €144 a month ( January 2013) for approved prescribed drugs, medicines and certain appliances for use by yourself and your family in that month. If a reference price has been set for drugs you are prescribed, this is the price that the HSE will use to calculate your monthly drugs costs.


In order to qualify for this scheme, you must be ordinarily resident in Ireland.


The scheme covers the person who applied, his or her spouse/partner and children under 18 years or under 23 if in full-time education. A dependant with a physical or mental disability/illness living in the household who does not have a Medical Card and who is unable to fully maintain himself/herself, may be included in the family expenditure regardless of age.


Long term Illness Scheme


People suffering from certain conditions can get free drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances for the treatment of that condition. These are provided under the Long Term Illness Scheme. This scheme is administered by the Health Service Executive (HSE), under Section 59 of the Health Act 1970.


The Long Term Illness Scheme does not depend on your income or other circumstances. You may also be eligible for a Medical Card or GP Visit Card, depending on your circumstances.


The medical conditions that qualify under the Long Term Illness Scheme are:


   Mental handicap

   Mental illness (for people under 16 only)

   Diabetes insipidus

   Diabetes mellitus


   Cerebral palsy



   Cystic fibrosis

   Multiple sclerosis

   Spina bifida

   Muscular dystrophies



   Acute leukaemia

   Conditions arising from use of Thalidomide


If you qualify, you will get a long-term illness book. This book lists the drugs and medicines for the treatment of your condition, which will be provided to you free of charge through your pharmacist. You do not have to pay a prescription charge for drugs covered by your long-term illness book. Other drugs and medicines not related to the specified condition must be paid for in the normal way.