What are my medical entitlements as a retiree returning to Ireland?

Ask the Experts: I will be living in Ireland for 6 months every year

Public healthcare benefits, such as medical cards and GP visit cards, are only available to a person who is “ordinarily resident” in Ireland.

Public healthcare benefits, such as medical cards and GP visit cards, are only available to a person who is “ordinarily resident” in Ireland.

 

Q: Maeve, Bahrain

I am Irish with English husband who is applying for Irish citizenship. We have lived in Bahrain for 40 years and own house in Ireland for 15 years. We are now retired with no income earned in Ireland or elsewhere. We plan to spend half year in Ireland and half in Bahrain. What medical benefits can we apply for when we return to Ireland? We both have PPSN numbers. Should we also apply for European medical insurance?

A: Judy McAvoy, Crosscare Migrant Project

Public healthcare benefits, such as medical cards and GP visit cards, are only available to a person who is “ordinarily resident” in Ireland. The requirement is that a person must show that they are living in Ireland and intend to do so for more than one year. A lease or proof of owning a property or, in some cases, an affidavit will suffice for this. On contacting the HSE, we were informed that the requirement is that a person must be living in Ireland for nine months of the year in order to be ordinarily resident. Bearing the above information in mind, the following healthcare benefits may be available to retirees.

GP visit cards: These are not means-tested and available free to all those over 70 who are ordinarily resident in Ireland.

Medical cards: These are means-tested and available to those on a low income who are ordinarily resident. In order to apply for a medical card, a person is generally required to have an income, provide proof of income and meet the income threshold requirements. The means test for over 70s is more lenient than that for the under 70s.

EU rules: If a person is ordinarily resident in Ireland, has never paid PRSI here and is in receipt of a payment or pension from another EU/EEA country or Switzerland, they may apply for a medical card or GP visit card. They should request an S1 form from the health or pension authority in the country that pays them to show that they are still covered by the social insurance system in that country. They should also attach proof of their foreign payment.

A European Health Insurance Card is always advisable to have and it’s free. However, as Irish citizens, it is only possible to use these when abroad and not in Ireland.

Judy McAvoy is information and advocacy officer with Crosscare Migrant Project. See migrantproject.ie. Crosscare is carrying out a survey of returned Irish emigrants to find out what challenges they experienced moving home. To participate, see surveymonkey.com/r/returnedirish

Have a query for our panel of experts about emigrating, life abroad or moving home? Email them to abroad@irishtimes.com. We regret that only questions selected for publication online can be answered. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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