Free GP visit expansion goes live
Over 200,000 people became eligible for free GP visits this week.
A Cork TD welcomed Monday’s “milestone” expansion of eligibility for GP visit cards for up to 215,000 newly eligible people.
Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan said the move will not only make healthcare more affordable for patients but will also improve health outcomes.
The deputy said: “Removing the financial barrier to accessing a GP encourages people to seek treatment at an earlier stage, rather than delaying the decision to seek care until the point at which the illness has progressed to the point where it requires hospitalisation – a much more expensive form of care.”
The announcement is phase one of a two phase process which will provide free GP care to an estimated 430,000 people aged between 8 and 69 on a means tested basis.
It is part of the biggest expansion in eligibility for free GP care in the history of the state.
As of Monday, the weekly income threshold for a single person living alone is €361, up from €304 and set to increase to €418 in the second phase.
The threshold for a single person living with family has increased from €271 to €322, with the second phase to bring to it to €373.
For a couple without dependents, a couple with dependent(s), or a one parent family, the weekly income threshold has increased from €441 to €524 today and will increase to €607 in the second phase.
The expansion is supported by an agreement between the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) signed in early July 2023 which put in place a series of financial supports for GPs.
Announcing the opening of applications, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly said: “This expansion of the GP Visit Card scheme will help people to manage the cost-of-living challenges we face, and I encourage those who may be eligible to apply now.”
The means test assessment considers a person’s or family’s circumstances, income, and expenses. As well as assessing various kinds of income, a means test assessment considers personal situation, including dependent children and living situation, plus expenses such as rent or mortgage and childcare costs.
This expansion will increase the qualifying financial threshold for a means tested GP visit card in two phases.
The Department of Health said the expansion’s introduction has been phased in order to avoid “logjams” in the application and assessment process.
People aged up to 69 and parents of children aged 8 and up can apply for a means tested GP visit card via a simplified online application process at hse.ie/GPVisitCards.