There appear to be serious delays in the processing of applications for new medical cards and renewals of expired medical cards.
Some people are reporting delays of more than 3 months – which can mean they may have to pay for GP visits and prescriptions while they wait .
It also appears that many people are not being reminded to renew medical cards – which used to happen in the past. This means they may not find out the card has expired until they have to visit a GP.
In July 2011 the HSE decided to centralise the processing of all new applications and renewals of medical cards at the Primary Care Reimbursement Service, (PCRS ) , in Finglas. (Telephone : 1890 252 919 ) . Prior to that it was handled locally.
The PCRS reported in 2011 that it was receiving approximately 20,000 medical card applications per week and that over of 80% of complete applications were being processed within 15 working days. They said delays can occur where applications are submitted without the correct supporting documentation necessary to complete the processing of the application.
There is a website, www.medicalcard.ie , which enables people to apply for or renew a medical card online . When we tried to check the online application system – it would not work for us in Firefox browser but was OK in Internet Explorer !
The online medical card application process will determine if you are eligible on the basis of an assessment of your income only. If you are over the income guidelines you will know immediately and the HSE will send you written confirmation showing you the assessment based on the details you have provided. LocaqlHealth offices still have to be involved for those cases who may be eligible on a discretionary basis and you should contact your local health office if you don’t qualify on the income level rules.
The delays are causing problems for many GPs, who are not paid for patients who are no longer on Medical Cards.
Since the start of 2010, the number of medical card holders in Ireland has increased by 216,098 to a total of 1,694,658 as at 1st November 2011. In the same period, the number of GP visit card holders increased by over 29,000 to 127,538.