Dáil Éireann - Volume 628 - 22 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the income threshold which will be applied in 2007 for deeming a young person living with their parents to obtain a medical card in their own right on the grounds of being independent of their family. [39690/06]

Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the changes made in the 2007 Estimates to modify the means test for medical cards and for general practitioner only cards; the index which her Department advises the Health Service Executive to use when considering the annual adjustment of income thresholds; the new income guidelines proposed for 2007; and the date they will come into force. [39692/06]

  Ms Harney: I propose to take Questions Nos. 304 and 306 together.

[371] The assessment guidelines used by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in respect of applications for medical cards and GP visit cards are subject to review by the Executive and my Department from time to time, having regard to the need to ensure that persons intended to benefit under these arrangements can do so. Such reviews have regard to factors such as changes in income levels generally, the nature of typical household outgoings and also changes which may be made to the various social welfare schemes.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people’s eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. In 2005 the income guidelines were increased incrementally by a cumulative 29%. Other significant changes which I have introduced are that applications are now considered on the basis of income net of tax and PRSI and that allowance is made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, childcare and travel to work. In June 2006 I agreed with the Executive a further adjustment to the assessment guidelines for GP visit cards and these are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

Persons aged 16-25 (including students) who are financially dependent on their parents are entitled to a medical card / GP visit card if their parents are medical card / GP visit card holders. Those who are financially independent of their parents are assessed in their own right. The current weekly income allowance, after tax and PRSI and net of allowable disregards, allowed for a single person under 65 and living with family, is €164 for a medical card and €246 for a GP visit card.