The Health Service Executive manages the ‘General Medical Services’ (GMS) scheme which helps to pay for your prescription medicines. There are several ways in which the Government in Ireland provides affordable medicines and makes them available.
The Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS)
DPS allows individuals and families who do not hold medical cards to limit the amount they have to spend on prescribed drugs. Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, no individual or family has to pay more than €120 in any calendar month for approved prescribed drugs, medicines and appliances.
Doctor Only Cards
Doctor Only cards is a means tested scheme and will enable people to obtain free GP care while continuing to pay for their medication. This scheme is in addition to the existing medical card scheme which gives free primary care including medicines to about 30% of the population and the Drugs Payment Scheme where Government funds medicine costing above €120 per month per individual or family. The latter scheme is not means tested.
Over 70s Scheme
The Over 70s scheme is means tested and anyone who is eligible and over the age of seventy, does not have to pay for health care costs.
The Hi-Tech scheme was introduced to facilitate the supply of certain medicines e.g. those used in conjunction with chemotherapy, which had previously been supplied primarily in the hospital setting. Finally, the Long Term Illness (LTI) scheme has been set up to provide access to medicines for persons who suffer from one or more chronic illnesses.
Your pharmacist can advise you on your entitlement to benefits under the Medical Card, Drug Payment, Long Term Illness and other State Schemes. They can also advise you on how to get tax relief on medical expenses not covered by Health insurance or the State Schemes.
For more on-line information you can visit the National Centre for Pharmaeconomics which gives detailed information on each scheme.