QUESTION NO: 116 to the Minister for Health and Children (Ms. Harney (Dublin Mid-West)) for WRITTEN ANSWER on 23/04/2009

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children the way means testing is to be carried out on the means of persons over 70 years with reference to the entitlement to have a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  David Stanton T.D.


Under the Health Act 2008, automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons aged 70 or over ceased on 31st December 2008, and with effect from 1st January 2009, the income thresholds for entitlement to a medical card for those aged 70 or over is €700 (gross) per week (€36,500 per year) for a single person and €1,400 (gross) per week (€73,000 per year) for a couple.

Any savings and similar investments up to €36,000 (single)/€72,000 (couple) will be disregarded when assessing means and only interest from savings or similar investments above these figures will be considered as income. The relevant portion of savings and similar investments will be assessed on the income calculated at a notional interest rate (currently 5%), based on the prevailing interest rates at the time of application. The Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Central Application Unit will review the notional rate on a quarterly basis.

Alternatively, where an applicant wishes to have the actual interest from savings/investments considered, then the HSE will apply this approach and use the most beneficial option in favour of the applicant, subject to submission of the appropriate certificates from the relevant institutions. In the case of “longer term” investment accounts, where the interest is only applied at the end of a fixed period, if the applicant so wishes, the HSE will only take account of the interest earned on the date the investment matures. Any calculation of interest is inclusive of Deposit Interest Retention Tax.