Over 70 medical card crisis: Call to action

October 18, 2008

TO: Each Organisation affiliated to the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament

Dear Colleague,

This is a very difficult time for Older People in Ireland. Since Budget Day the issue of the withdrawal of the Medical Card for Older People has dominated the airwaves and, indeed, the Parliament has been inundated with ‘phone calls and emails from Older People and their families on the matter. We are actively campaigning to seek the withdrawal by Government of this draconian measure which will have such an adverse affect on the lives of Older People and their families.

Each and every one of your organisations can play a vital role in seeking to retain the Medical Card for Older People by lobbying all your local representatives especially those from the Government Parties i.e. Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, the Progressive Democrats and the Independents who support the government. Make your opposition known to the opposition as well. Ask all of them to work to have the decision reversed by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Health and Children and the Government.

The Older People of Ireland did not create the situation whereby the delivery of Medical Card services for Older People costs four times more at €640.00 per person. Older People must be relieved of the fear and stress caused by this proposal. The facts and figures which have emerged are truly staggering. Older People for a long time have been classed as high rollers and people on vast incomes who were in possession of a Medical Card. We have seen that this has not been the case and that the majority of Older People are on very low incomes as shown by the fact that ⅔ of them already had a Medical Card before they reached age 70.

You, the members, are critical to the success of this campaign. You must go to your local representatives and ask them to have this measure withdrawn. This issue is so vital for Older People. We must not be seen as ‘easy targets’.

In the period since the over 70s Medical Card has been in place there was ample time to negotiate proper arrangements with regard to its delivery. It seems strange that rather than tackling that issue the Government is now tackling the recipients most of whom are ringing our offices in fear and dread.

Get out there! Get working! Get talking to your local politicians and demand that this be withdrawn.

Yours sincerely,

Máiréad Hayes
Chief Executive Officer



  1. The heat may have gone from the Medical card fiasco for the moment but I believe that pressure must be maintained on Goverment, that is if it survives!? I am one of many that would have the descision reversed in toto and the status quo maintained. We all know of those that are, will or maybe effected by the withdrawl of the card which was granted as a “right” to those over 70 in the first place. How any organisation can withdraw such rights is a bit of a mystery. So battle on and when is the next protest march/demo?

  2. My situation is very similar to Jack (above)except that the total is less.I dont know Jacks age. I am 80 and apart from the expense (which is considerable)the loss of the “comfort” of having the card is a problem for me and there is no knowing where it will end. NO free travel phone electricity or medication.Some reward for a life of doing the right thing.Dont ever consider giving up on the 5% of over70s

  3. I wish to send a warning to those of our elderly brethren who may be persuaded by smart politicians to agree to a means test in order to hold on to our besieged medical cards.

    University grants to educate young people in the early eighties were given out on the basis of means tests. Many of us failed to get these grants for our children because we were PAYE workers and were proved to be barely over the thresholds that applied.

    Imagine to our great chagrin we later discovered that many rich big farmers and wealthy self-employed business men were granted these same grants for their families. They passed the means tests because they succeeded in putting across that their businesses and farms needed high investment to run and much of their profits went for this purpose. We were aware that accountants were hired to put their cases together. Imagine my astonishment one night when I witnessed a T.D. giving advice to one of these wealthy people on how to put a good case forward.

    This is what will follow this suggestion of every medical card holder over seventy years of age being means tested for his/her medical card.

    There is only one way to avoid this possibility, or might I add corrupt practice, and that is for everyone to refuse to fill up these application forms that are to be sent out to us. By filling in these forms we may be automatically disqualifying ourselves of our rights to a medical card. My advice is ‘Do not co-operate with the H.S.E. in any way.’ By doing this we will obstruct the government in their dastardly task of removing medical cards from those of us barely over whatever threshold or cutting off point they decide on.

  4. On behalf of the North Leitrim & West Cavan Family Carers group, we want to send our support for all those protesting in Dublin on Wednesday. Our group has many members who are over 70 and the proposed additional burden of removing their medical cards or lowering their benefits has many members in distress. We absolutely support the protest, and although our members cannot get to Dublin on Wednesday we will be with you in spirit, and hope that the protest will show Minister Mary Harney that older people in Ireland – who have worked all their lives and, in the case of Family Carers, are working still – will not be subjected to this discrimination nor will allow themselves to be downtrodden without putting up a fight. People young and old are supporting you. All the best.
    NLWC Carers, xxx

  5. Old people face the biggest hit in the Budget.

    by Cowen Hood of Lenehan Forest

    Rob the Old, they cost too much!

    Anyone over 70 who earns in excess of €240 per week is liable to lose the medical card. Anyone who earns more than 3.7% of the Taoiseach’s salary is considered too rich to have a medical card. All people who have a second pension, no matter how small, will lose the medical card. Definitely anyone who saved money and did not take holidays abroad will be punished for for what was formerly seen as prudence.

    Take Jack who receives the OAP worth about €12,000 and an Occupational Pension of about €20,000 is living frugally alone in suburban Dublin. He earnings €32,000 per year that is less than 10% of the Taoiseach’s salary. He will not entitled to a Medical Card. Of course he might get one if he has to pay rent or a mortgage. But Jack was a prudent man, and sadly bought his own house in the 1950 and the mortgage is paid.

    However, this filthy wealthy man has been a saver since his days in national school, long before Mr McCreevy got all the nation saving in their SSIA’s. Jack worried that he might not have enough for some future rainey day. Wisely he did without some luxuries such as foreign holidays and big cars and put some money aside in the Post Office and the Banks to accumulate a nest egg of €375,000. Unfortunately what was seen formerly as wisdom is now to be punished. The interest of nearly €20,000 places him among the elite and vulgar wealthy elderly of Ireland who earn €55,000 a year. He was so rich he managed to buy some bank shares.

    The country must now punish such frugal and miserly behaviour and insist that he now pay his way for Medical Care. He may not have indulged in alcohol or foreign holidays but he now must pay the state for the privilege of hoarding his money. Those who did not save are seen to have a rightful and just demand on his evil nest egg.

    Poor Jack, he must now pay for his 10 visits to the doctor per year (€600) and for his medicine which is expensive (€1,200) and various other facilities such as chiropodist, (€240) physiotherapy (€380), Specialist attendance (€1,000) on top of his VHI which he has been fortunate to maintain. Of course he now has to pay for his monthly blood test (€500). His medical expensises have shot up from a small amout to over €3,420 and that assumes he does not have to pay for any further equipment in the house or to adapt his house.

    Jack no longer maintains his garden and must pay nearly €600 a year to maintain his garden. He has a private home help, who is paid €25 per week that is €1,300 per year. He uses his car locally and finds the bus difficult so must take a taxi to visit the hospital once every two months for a clinic for which he pays out of his own pocket. What will he do when he has to pay medical expenses on top of all this.

    Foolish Jack, if only he had spent his money rather than saved it he would not now be punished way in excess of every other citizen. Then again perhaps the state needs to punish sick old misers who have squirrelled away their funds for the rainy day. Whereas nearly everyone will suffer financially in the budget by a drop of 1 to 2 percent in disposable income, Jack and the fellow greedy elderly will suffer a drop in excess of 10% because he now has to pay for medical care.

    At what level is Jack or others rich? Many so called rich people see the medical card as a reward for their being loyal life long tax payers. If I pay €30,000 or more to the Revenue in the current tax year, and I am over 70 is it not reasonable to see some of that payment as a payment for medical insurance, otherwise a medical card. To punish, prudence, loyalty, patriotism is hardly patriotic! Yes there is a need for shrewd management of funds but the physical health and less worries the elderly have impinge on all who have parent, and relatives who are old. We have all benefitted from the Medical card for the elderly, sons, daughters, relatives and friends. Long live the universal availability of the medical card for the elderly.

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