Government Schemes Explained

Prescription GovSchemesExplained Thumbnail0Medical Card (GMS)


Having a Medical Card entitles patients to a range of services for free. This includes GP visits, free access to a Family Doctor, certain dental treatments, and hospital visits along with some Personal & Social Services.

Access to a medical card is means tested and cards are generally awarded to applicants below a certain income level. There are different guidelines for those aged under 70 years and those aged over 70 years. If you are marginally above the limit for a full medical card you could get a GP Visit card which just entitles you to see your GP for free.  Click here for further information about income levels or contact the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850. 

You may apply online at www.medicalcard.ie.

Prescription charges for holders of a full medical card

Medical card holders pay €2.50* charge per prescription item, subject to a monthly ceiling of €25.00* per family. For more information on prescription charges click here

*subject to change by the HSE

Doctor Visit (DV) Card

A GP Visit Cards allows individuals and families in Ireland to visit their family doctor for free. Only the cost of visits to your family doctor is free; you must pay for prescribed drugs, medicines and other health services similar to others who don't have a Medical Card.  If you have a GP Visit Card you should also apply for a Drugs Payment Scheme Card if you don't already have one.

The income guidelines for GP Visit Cards are higher than the Medical Card and the allowances for rent, mortgage and childcare bring many people's income within the guidelines.  Click here for further information about income levels

Drug Payment Scheme

Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, an individual or family in Ireland only has to pay €144* each month for approved prescribed drugs, medicines and certain appliances for use by that person or his or her family in that month.

*The amount is determined from time to time by the HSE.

If you have a GP Visit Card or do not have a Medical Card you should apply for a Drugs Payment Scheme Card.  As long as you are ordinarily resident in Ireland and hold a PPSN you are entitled to a Drug Payments card. There is no means test for the Drugs Payment Scheme and you can register for the scheme in any Hickey’s Pharmacy.  The definition of a family for this Scheme, is an adult, their spouse, and any children under 18 years.  Dependents over 18 years and under 23 years who are in full time education may also be included.

Click here to see items available on Medicine Schemes in Ireland

Long Term Illness Scheme

If you have certain long-term illnesses or disabilities, you may apply to join the Long Term Illness Scheme and you will be supplied with a Long Term Illness book.  This book allows you to get certain specified drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances,  which are related to the treatment of your illness, free of charge.  It does not depend on your income or other circumstances and is separate from the Medical Card Scheme and the GP Visit Card Scheme.

The LTI scheme only applies to the following conditions:

  •          Acute Leukaemia
  •          Mental handicap
  •          Cerebral Palsy
  •          Mental Illness (in a person under 16)
  •          Cystic Fibrosis
  •          Multiple Sclerosis
  •          Diabetes Insipidus
  •          Muscular Dystrophies
  •          Diabetes Mellitus
  •          Parkinsonism
  •          Epilepsy
  •          Phenylketonuria
  •          Haemophilia
  •          Spina Bifida
  •          Hydrocephalus
  •          Conditions arising from the use of Thalidomide

To get a Long Term Illness book, your Doctor or consultant must sign a form to confirm your condition and list the medication you require.

European Health Insurance Card

European residents who hold the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), E111 or equivalent may obtain essential prescribed medicines in case of emergency.  Medicines must be prescribed by a doctor who has a contract with the Health Services Executive (HSE).  The doctor issues the prescription on a particular form.   A levy of €2.50* per item is payable.  Click here for more details on this scheme. 

 *subject to change by the HSE

Hospital Emergency Scheme

If you hold a full Medical Card, and have been discharged from an Accident and Emergency Department or ward of an acute hospital, we can supply you with some medicines to get your treatment started.  This gives you a time to get your prescription organised at your GP surgery.  You must present the prescription on the day you were discharged or the following day and we can supply up to seven days treatment. The Medical Card item levy of €1.50* per item applies to this scheme.

*subject to change by the HSE

Health Amendment Card

If you contracted Hepatitis C from the administration within Ireland of blood or blood products and have a positive diagnostic test, you are entitled to a range of services including public in-patient and out-patient hospital services, GP services, all prescribed drugs, medicines and appliances, dental and ophthalmic services, home help, home nursing, counselling services and other services without charge.  If you are eligible, the Hepatitis C Liaison Officer in your HSE area will arrange to issue you with a Health (Amendment) Act Card (HAA Card), which will make it easier for you to access these services.

A HAA Card is not the same as a Medical Card.  The HAA Card is personal to the individual cardholder and does not cover family members (except in the case of access to counselling services). You should bring your card with you when availing of services.

Summary of Entitlements

  •          GP Services
  •          Prescribed drugs, medicines, aids and appliances
  •          Dental services
  •          Ophthalmic services
  •         Aural services
  •          Home support services
  •          Home nursing
  •          Counselling services
  •          A range of other services, such as chiropody/podiatry, and physiotherapy
  •          Certain in-patient and out-patient services in public hospitals.

For further information click here

Dental Treatment Scheme

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) covers all medical card holders (aged 16 years and over).  They can avail of a range of dental treatments from dentists who hold DTSS contracts with the Health Services Executive (HSE). We supply approved medicines which have been prescribed under this scheme free of charge (subject to a €2.50* levy per item).

*subject to change by the HSE

OTC items available on Medicine Schemes in Ireland

If you need to take non-prescription medicines in addition to your prescription medicines, you may find this list useful.   It details what ‘Over the Counter’ items are covered by most prescription schemes. So if you require a cough bottle or extra pain relief, you may be able to request that your Doctor add them to your prescription. Simply discuss with your GP on your next visit.

Click here to access the list of items available on Medicine Schemes.

The list is not exhaustive and subject to change. Ask your Hickey’s Pharmacist if you wish to find out about a product that is not on the list.

Tax Relief on Medicines

Irish taxpayers are eligible to claim tax relief on payments made towards Health Care in any one calendar year.  This includes payments made for prescription medicines.  To claim this tax relief, you must complete a Med 1 form (available from your local tax office or from Hickeys Pharmacy) at the end of the tax year.  Your local Hickey’s Pharmacy will be happy to provide you with a print-out of your total spend on prescriptions within any date range

Click here for further details on what health expenses may be claimed.