Developments

Minister for Health to introduce range of affordable healthcare measures next month

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today secured funding for a range of measures that will make healthcare more affordable for more than a million people across the country.

This funding, which was agreed at Cabinet today, will allow for the much-awaited increases in the over 70s medical card income limits, a reduction in the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold by €10 to €114 per month and provide for a €0.50c reduction in prescription charges for all medical card holders. It is expected that all of these measures will take effect from November 1st this year.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “Ensuring access to medical cards for more people over 70 was a key priority for me. This measure will not only ease the financial burden on up to 56,000 people over 70, but it will encourage them to seek medical attention sooner rather than later. This will help them to remain healthier and live full active lives for longer. These medical cards will be of immense benefit to many older people this winter and for many years to come.

“The reduction in the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold, and the reduction in prescription charges for all medical card holders will support over a million people. These measures will benefit people across society, from young to old, across single people and families. This brings us closer in our aim to have affordable access to healthcare for everyone.”

The funding secured today will ensure that the over 70s medical card income limits will be increased to €550 per week for a single person (currently €500 per week) and to €1050 for a couple (currently €900 per week). This measure will be the first increase to the limits since they were last reduced six years ago.

In addition, the announcement today will see a 50 cent reduction in prescription charges for all medical card holders, which will benefit over 1.58 million people with medical card eligibility. Eligible people under 70 will now only pay a maximum of €15 per month for prescribed medicines. Those over 70 will only pay a maximum of €10 per month for prescribed medicines.

When introduced in 2012, the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold was set at €144 per month. The reduction to €114 per month has now the potential to benefit all 1.38 million people eligible under the scheme.

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