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A medical card is a plastic card, given to persons in Ireland, who earn under a certain income limit or have ongoing medical requirements that would cause the cost of their care to be unduly onerous. The card entitles the holder to free visits to GPs, free or drastically reduced-price hospital and dental treatment, and prescribed medication for a nominal charge of €1.50 per item. Holders are also exempt from paying the income levy and health levy, and are entitled to a range of other benefits.
Until 2008, persons aged over 70 were automatically entitled to free medical cards. The budget of October 2008 abrogated this entitlement, although after several protests, the benefit was reinstated to all who earn under €700 per week, more than three times the limit for younger people.
A "GP visit card" is available to people earning up to 50% above the income limit. As the name suggests, it grants free visits to GPs, but does not include any of the other benefits.
The medical card system is administered by the Health Service Executive.
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