What are Medical Cards and who can get one?
A Medical Card is issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and allows the holders to receive certain health services free of charge, including a number of eyecare services. Normally your dependent spouse or partner and your children are also covered.
Anyone who has been living in, and intends to live in, Ireland for at least one year (otherwise known as ‘ordinarily resident’) is eligible to apply for a Medical Card. In order to qualify, your weekly income must be below a certain figure, which is calculated via a means test specific to your circumstances.¹
It is possible that you automatically qualify if any of the following applies to you:
- Are participating in certain government schemes
- Have been affected by the drug thalidomide
- Have had a surgical symphysiotomy
- Are a child diagnosed with cancer within the last 5 years
- Are in foster care
- Live in direct provision
- Qualify under EU Regulations²
For any of the above, you won’t be subject to a financial assessment, but you will still need to apply
How is the financial threshold calculated?
To pass the financial test your weekly net earnings must be below a specific financial threshold calculated by adding together a basic rate (a fixed amount determined by your age, marital status, living situation and children), an amount allocated to any dependants, and an amount for allowable expenses.¹
The final calculated figure becomes the maximum amount you can earn as your weekly net income in order to qualify for a Medical Card.
There are also special guidelines for certain age categories:
|16 to 25⁶||- If your guardians received a Medical Card, you’ll receive your own when you turn 16.|
- If your guardians don’t have a Medical Card, you can still apply if you live with them and earn more than €164 a week or if you live on your own and earn more than €184 a week.
|Over 70s⁷||You will qualify if your gross income is: |
- not more than €550 a week if you are single
- not more than €1,050 a week for a couple (only one out of two people need to be aged 70 or older to be eligible).
How can I apply for a Medical Card?
To apply for a Medical Card, you need to send a Medical Card application form to the Client Registration Unit (CRU) along with any requested documents.
There are three ways to do this:
- You can apply online on mymedicalcard.ie. This is the fastest method.
- You can download a Medical Card application form:
- MC1 Medical Card and GP Visit Card Application Form (pdf)
- If you are over 70: MC1(a) Medical Card and GP Visit Card Application Form - People Aged 70 Years or Older (pdf)
- You can get the application form and a list of participating GPs from your local health centre or Local Health Office for your area.¹
Take a look at our advice pages for specific information about how to claim a free eye test and glasses or hearing aids with a Medical Card.
- Citizens Information. (02/09/2021). Medical cards. [Online] Available at: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/health/medical_cards_and_gp_visit_cards/medical_card.html [Accessed 08/10/2021]
- Health Service Executive. (21/10/2018). Medical card application process, 1. What a medical card covers. [Online] Available at: https://www2.hse.ie/services/medical-cards/medical-card-application-process/what-a-medical-card-covers.html [Accessed 08/10/2021]
- Health Service Executive. Schemes and allowances. [Online] Available at: https://www2.hse.ie/costs-schemes-allowances/ [Accessed 08/10/2021]
- Health Service Executive. (21/10/2018). GP visit cards. [Online] Available at: https://www2.hse.ie/services/gp-visit-cards/gp-visit-cards.html [Accessed 08/10/2021]
- Health Service Executive. (21/10/2018). Medical card application process, 4. Apply. [Online] Available at: https://www2.hse.ie/services/medical-cards/medical-card-application-process/how-to-apply-for-a-medical-card.html [Accessed 08/10/2021]
- Health Service Executive. (21/10/2018). Medical card for over 70s. [Online] Available at: https://www2.hse.ie/services/medical-cards/medical-card-for-over-70s.html [Accessed 08/10/2021]