Thu, 17 Oct 2019

Free healthcare to apply to more Irish people from next month

Conor Trindle
26 Mar 2019, 02:58 GMT+10

DUBLIN, Ireland - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris on Monday welcomed a number of significant changes which will enable more people to access affordable health care.

These changes were announced as part of Budget 2019 and will provide from April 1st for a:

- €10 reduction in the monthly Drugs Payment Scheme threshold from €134 to €124;

- 10% increase across all GP Visit Card weekly income thresholds; and a

- reduction in prescription charges from €2 to €1.50 for all medical card holders over the age of 70.

"A big part of Sláintecare is extending free healthcare to more people and reducing the cost for others. So this is another step forward benefitting people across society; young, old, families, single people, low income and better off," Varadkar said Monday.  

"More working people on modest incomes will qualify for free GP care, while changes to the Drugs Payment Scheme and the prescription charge will help make medicines more affordable. Hundreds of thousands of people could benefit from these three actions taken together." 

"This week will also see increases in weekly welfare payments to carers, people with disabilities, widows, lone parent and jobseekers. There are also special increases for low income families with children. This is all part of our plan to make life easier for families, and to create a society where nobody feels left out, said the taoiseach.  

Minister for Health Simon Harris added: "These changes, taking effect from the beginning of April, are about ensuring and supporting care in the community setting, a fundamental goal of Sláintecare."

"You can check your eligibility for the GP visit card at and you can apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme at or through your Local Health Office. The reduction in prescription fees will be applied automatically," Minister Harris said.

Anne Marie Hoey, HSE Assistant National Director - Primary Care Reimbursement and Eligibility added: "I welcome the continued government policy of extending eligibility to those who will most benefit from GP and primary care services and in this case to those who may have been slightly over the threshold for a GP Visit Card and who may now gain eligibility."

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