Know Your Rights: Emergency Medical Card

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Know Your Rights has been compiled by Kerry Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public…

Question: What is an emergency medical card?    

Answer: An emergency medical card is a temporary medical card that is issued without a means test in certain emergency situations and is valid for 6 months.

For example, you could be issued an emergency medical card in an acute medical crisis where you need urgent treatment that you cannot afford without a medical card.

Only a healthcare professional (for example, a doctor or consultant) can apply for an emergency medical card for you. They must include a detailed medical report with the application.

The application will be reviewed by a Health Service Executive (HSE) medical officer.

If your application is approved, it can take 7 to 10 days to get your emergency medical card in the post. However, your card will be active straight away so you can get the care you need.

You will need to complete a means assessment before your emergency medical card expires. The HSE will write to you when you need to do this. The means assessment is for a full medical card for you and your family.

In some cases, the medical officer may recommend a terminal illness card. These are given to people who are getting ‘end of life’ treatment. This means a prognosis of less than 12 months to live.

If you get a terminal illness card it will never be reviewed and will not expire.

Further information is available from the National Medical Card Unit on (051) 595 129, or Lo-call 1890 252 919, or from the Citizens Information Centre below.

• Contact us in Tralee on Tel: 0761 07 7860 Killarney 0761 07 7820, Listowel 0761 07 7840 Kenmare 0761 07 7810, & Caherciveen 0761 07 7780. Outreach Services; Killorglin weekly, Dingle monthly, please call Tralee for more information.

Information is also available online at and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000

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