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This second phase of universal GP care extends a GP service without charges to everyone aged 70 years and older.
The new measure applies to those aged 70 and over who do not currently hold a medical or GP visit card.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Varadkar said: “This is the next step to universal healthcare. From 5 August, all 400,000 people aged 70 and over will be able to see their GP without paying fees. It’s an important step because, for the first time, the eldest and youngest in our society will be able to access GP care without being charged.”
Minister Lynch added: “This Government is committed to strengthening and further developing primary care services. As we continue to expand free GP care to those under 18 years of age, we will also provide more services in primary care. We will focus on early intervention, providing services such as minor surgery and managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma in primary care. As the number of primary care teams and centres continue to increase, so too will the range of services being provided.”
A HSE public information campaign on the new service is also starting, which is aimed at encouraging just under 40,000 people aged 70 years or older, who do not already have a medical card or GP visit card, to register for this service.
Mr John Hennessy, HSE National Director of Primary Care, said: “ A simple online registration system is available from Friday 31 July on www.gpvisitcard.ie. Registration of a person aged 70 or older just requires the person’s name, PPS number, gender, date of birth, contact details and the selection of a GP of choice. Alternatively people can download a form from the website www.gpvisitcard.ie, or lo-call 1890 252 919 to receive a copy by post. The registration form will also be available in pharmacies and local health offices.”
All people aged 70 or older will be able to access a GP service without charges, replacing the existing GP service arrangement for this age group, which is based on a means-test. Their dependents, including spouses or partners, who are under the age of 70 will continue to have access to a GP service without fees where they meet the existing income limits.
People over 70 who already hold a medical or GP visit card do not need to register.
Anyone requiring help or guidance can contact the helpline 1890 252 919 (weekdays 8am-8pm)