Over-50s with a full medical card visit their GP more often
People over 50 who get a full medical card end up visiting their GP more often and also significantly increase the number of medications they take, a new report reveals.
The findings from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin shows that gaining a full medical, or GP visit card, is associated with more than four visits to their doctor annually.
This amounts to an extra 1.3 visits a year, an increase of 43pc.
For those who lose a full medical or GP visit card, the number of GP visits falls by 1.2 visits per annum. However, it was not associated with a significant increase in the probability of getting a flu vaccine or additional visits to the emergency department, outpatient clinics or overnight hospital stays.
It found that 12.6pc of the over 50s who did not have a full medical or GP visit card in 2010 gained one by 2012.
In 2012, 39pc of the over 50s had a full medical or GP visit card and no private health insurance. Nearly one in five had both and 10pc had neither.
Researchers said it showed the extent of financial barriers to accessing healthcare services.