Healthcare in Ireland

►Buy the Expat Guide to Ireland in PDF format.


Healthcare in Ireland is modern, safe and among the best in the world. Ireland has a publicly funded healthcare system that expats with an 'ordinary resident' visa can register for. Unlike most EU countries it is not necessary to contribute to social security to receive public healthcare in Ireland.

Public healthcare in Ireland

healthcare in Ireland
Public hospitals in Ireland are either fully 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 often be long even for operations that demand some urgency. Anybody who is classified as an ordinary resident by the Health Services Executive, i.e. someone who is living in Ireland or intending to remain there for at least a year, has access to publicly funded healthcare.
However, expats should note that public healthcare in Ireland is not completely free of charge and some treatments may require a subsidised fee for those not in possession of a Medical Card, which is allocated according to an individual’s income, age, illness or disability. 
Nationals of European Union countries with a European Health Insurance Card have access to free or reduced price emergency care in public facilities in Ireland.

Private healthcare in Ireland

Private hospitals in Ireland operate independently of state health services. Patients at these facilities are required 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 basically become the private patient of the medical specialist treating them in that facility and are required to pay for all services, such as the hospital’s in-patient charges, the specialist’s fees, as well as all the charges for those treating them during their stay, such as radiologists and anaesthetists. 

Health insurance in Ireland

Despite subsidised treatment and many free services in Ireland, many Irish citizens and most expats opt for private health insurance. This is required by law for non-resident expats who are not EU citizens. Expats should take care to see what overseas insurance is accepted by private hospitals in Ireland. Private insurance allows expats to receive immediate treatment. 
Many employers will provide private health insurance in Ireland. Expats and their employer should discuss healthcare and health insurance options, packages, coverage and premiums before moving to Ireland.

Medicines and pharmacies in Ireland

Pharmacies are widely available in Irish towns and cities. Operating hours are usually 9am to 6pm or 8pm, Monday to Saturday. Some pharmacies are open till late (10pm) during the week and on Sundays. There are no 24/7 pharmacies and if medication is required urgently, it’s best to go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.
Prescription medications are provided free of charge to those with a Medical Card, otherwise a subsidised fee is charged. 

Emergency services in Ireland

Both public and private hospitals have Accident and Emergency (A & E) departments for serious emergencies. In the case of an emergency and if requiring an ambulance, dial 999 or 112. Patients may be charged for ambulance services, depending on their particular circumstances.

Become our local expat expert for your area!

Expat Arrivals is looking for contributors to make this the ultimate guide for international expats.

If you are an established expat who could make time to write useful information for expats in your city and answering forum questions from new and prospective expats, please contact us.

As our local expert you can have your profile showing on each page you publish, and will have an option to promote your website or blog.

Got a question about your new country?

Search Expat Arrivals