KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Help with prescription costs


There are certain plans available that help cover the cost of prescribed drugs and devices and the eligibility requirements for each plan are different.

Do I have to pay for prescriptions if I have a medical card?

If you have a medical card, there is a charge for prescription drugs and other items you get from pharmacies. The prescription fee is €1.50 for each item issued to you under the medical card scheme, up to a limit of €15 per month per person or family. For people aged over 70, the prescription fee is €1 per item, up to a limit of €10 per month per person or family.

If I have a GP Visit Card, does it cover prescription costs?

No. Prescribed drugs are not free but may be covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme.

What is the Drug Payment Plan?

Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, you and your family only have to pay a maximum of €80 per month for approved prescription drugs and medicines and certain devices. After registering for the program, you will receive a magnetic plastic card for each person named on the registration form. You must show this card each time you pick up your medication or devices at the pharmacy. The HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service provides a list of medicines or aids provided under the Medicines Payment Scheme. You must use the same pharmacy within a month to avoid paying more than the maximum of €80. You do not have to register with a pharmacy for the plan.

You can apply for the Drug Payment Scheme online at or by completing an application form which you can get from your local Citizens Information Center or local Health Unit.

What is the long-term health insurance plan?

If you suffer from a medical condition covered by the long-term health insurance plan, you can obtain medicines, drugs and medical and surgical devices for the treatment of this condition free of charge. Qualifying conditions include diabetes, epilepsy, parkinsonism and multiple sclerosis. You can get a full list of conditions covered by this program from your local Citizens Information Service.

You must ordinarily reside in Ireland to qualify. It means you live here and intend to live here for at least a year. Students from outside the EU are not eligible for the long-term health insurance scheme.

The long-term health insurance plan does not depend on your income or other circumstances. You may also be eligible for a medical card or a GP visit card, depending on your situation.

Can you tell me about the Discretionary Hardship Scheme?

The HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PSRS) provides a list of medicines or aids provided under the medical card or medicine payment scheme. These products are approved for diets by the HSE. Some items that can be purchased over the counter are not included in free or subsidized plans.

If you have a medical card and you are prescribed an item that is not on the PCRS list, your pharmacist or local health unit may request that it be paid for by the Discretionary Hardship Program. If the hardship plan does not cover the cost of the drug and you have to pay for it, you may want to consult your doctor to see if there is alternative medicine available. You can get more information about the plan from your pharmacist or local health office.

Is there a tax reduction for medical expenses?

If you pay medical expenses that are not covered by the state or by private health insurance, you can claim tax recovery on some of these expenses, which includes the medical expense tax refund for prescribed drugs and medication. You can claim tax relief online using Revenue’s myAccount service.

For more information, call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to help and, if necessary, arrange an appointment for you. The offices are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You can also email [email protected] or log on to

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