Healthcare in Ireland
Healthcare in Ireland is modern, safe and among the best in the world. Ireland has a publicly funded healthcare system that expats with a 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
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 an ordinary resident by the Health Services Executive, i.e. someone who is living in Ireland or intends 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. 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 reduced price 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 become the private patient of the medical specialist treating them and are required to pay for all hospital services as well as all the charges for those treating them during their stay.
Health insurance in Ireland
Despite subsidised treatment, many Irish citizens and most expats opt for private health insurance in Ireland. This is required by law for non-resident expats who are not EU citizens. 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.
Many Irish employers provide their employees with private health insurance. Expats and their employer should discuss their options 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 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. Dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance in an emergency. Patients may be charged for ambulance services, depending on their circumstances.