Healthcare in Ireland
Healthcare in Ireland is modern, safe and among the best in the world. Expats living in Ireland qualify for free or subsidised public health services, which are funded by the government.
Ireland's two-tier system means that expats in Ireland can choose to use either the government-funded public healthcare system or the private system, for which fees must be paid in full.
Public healthcare in Ireland
Public hospitals in Ireland are owned and funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE) or are voluntary public hospitals, which may be privately operated but funded by the government.
The public system, although providing similar quality care to private hospitals, is overbooked and waiting lists can be long, even for operations that demand some urgency.
Anybody who is classified as 'ordinarily resident' in Ireland (intending to live in Ireland for a year or more) has access to publicly funded healthcare. However, expats should note that public healthcare in Ireland is not completely free of charge. Some treatments require a subsidised fee for patients who don’t have a Medical Card, which is allocated according to an individual’s income, age, illness and/or disability.
Nationals of European Union countries with a European Health Insurance Card have access to free or discounted emergency care in public facilities in Ireland.
Private healthcare in Ireland
Private hospitals in Ireland operate independently of the state and require patients to pay the full cost of treatment.
Private healthcare can also be provided in public hospitals through the designation of private beds. Patients who opt for private healthcare in public facilities are required to pay for all hospital services as well as doctors' fees.
Health insurance in Ireland
If one doesn't qualify for a Medical Card, the Irish government provides other options for obtaining free or subsidised care, such as GP Visit Cards and the Long-Term Illness Scheme.
Despite subsidised treatment, many Irish citizens and most expats opt for private health insurance in Ireland. Private insurance allows patients to receive immediate treatment, but expats should check whether an overseas provider is accepted by private hospitals in Ireland before signing up. Some employers may pay for private health insurance, and expats should try to negotiate this into their employment package.
Medicines and pharmacies in Ireland
Pharmacies are widely available in Irish towns and cities. However, some areas may not have any 24-hour pharmacies, although some pharmacies do stay open late into the evening.
Prescription medications are provided free of charge to those with a Medical Card. If ordinarily resident in Ireland, expats (even those without a Medical Card) can apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme. The scheme puts a cap on how much residents can pay for prescription drugs with any cost above the cap covered by the government.
Emergency services in Ireland
Both public and private hospitals have Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments for serious emergencies. Dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance in an emergency. Patients without a Medical Card or patients who have not been referred by a GP may be charged for A&E services.