Around one million medical cards are to be reviewed this year, which will see an unwelcome official envelope coming through the letter box – causing fear and confusion.
However, the worst response is to ignore it because the medical card holder risks having their eligibility lapse, said Minister for Primary Care Alex White.
He urged people to send back their forms and avoid incurring costs that would otherwise be covered under the medical card.
"All medical card and GP visit card holders are subject to a periodic review of eligibility to determine continuing eligibility.
"Ordinarily, three months before an individual's existing medical card/GP visit card eligibility expiry date, a review notification issues to the individual (or their parents, in the case of a child).
"A review notification will indicate that either a self-assessment is completed by the card holder themselves or request that the card holder return evidence of household income, assessable outgoings and medical circumstances to enable a full review assessment to be conducted by the HSE," he said in a parliamentary reply to Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae.
A reminder letter is issued a month later if the requested review form details have not been received at that point. "If a person does not return their review form within the time specified, their continuing eligibility cannot be confirmed and their medical card/GP visit card cannot be reissued.
"In these circumstances, or where the review process establishes that a person no longer holds eligibility, the eligibility ceases."
He said people are requested to return their completed review forms, at least one month in advance of the due expiry date of their existing eligibility, in order to give the HSE sufficient time to carry out the review and/or to get back to the person if the application is incomplete.
"The medical card/GP visit card holder does not need to take any action other than genuinely co-operate with the review process and communicate with the HSE on an ongoing basis throughout the process.
"If the HSE is made aware that a person has a disability or special needs, assistance will be afforded to help that person complete the review application and explain the support documentation they need to send."
The local health office can be contacted or LoCall 1890 252 919 to request this assistance.
A medical card/GP visit card holder who genuinely engages with the review will not have their eligibility withdrawn before that review is complete.
In addition, GPs are advised three months in advance of the review dates of their patients' GP visit cards/medical cards, and subsequently the following month, and the month after that, if the patient has not returned their review form by that time.