Healthcare in Ireland

Last updated: July 11, 2019

Healthcare in Ireland has been improving greatly over the last few years. There has been a National Health Service in place since 2005 however this differs to the UK. Mortality rates of the three biggest killers in Ireland – heart disease, cancer and stroke – have also dropped drastically in recent decades. Especially if you are moving to Ireland it’s important to consider what the healthcare system is like.

Healthcare in Ireland

Public and Private Healthcare

Ireland has a two tier system that means you can choose between public and private healthcare. Public healthcare is funded by the government whereas private healthcare is the patient has to pay 100% of the costs.

Public Healthcare

For nationals of EU countries Ireland offers discounted healthcare for citizens with a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Those who are classified as an ordinary citizen in Ireland (intending to stay for a year or more) have the availability of public health care. Although it is true there is a version of the NHS that exists in Ireland it is not exactly the same as in the UK.In addition, Accident & Emergency departments may charge for use of their service (around €100). The NHS in Ireland offers subsidized rates for those without a medical card. Those with lower incomes are entitled to a medical card which gives free access to healthcare.

Although public healthcare in Ireland is of a similar level to private healthcare a big problem is that the public system is often overbooked and waiting lists are long.

Private healthcare

Private healthcare in Ireland can be undertaken in private hospitals which require the patient to pay the entire cost of treatment. In addition there are often private beds in public hospitals, this requires the patient to pay doctors fees and hospital services.

Health Insurance

In spite of there being government subsidized schemes such as GP Visit Cards and the Long Term Illness Scheme most Irish people opt for their own private insurance. This is because private insurance allows immediate treatment. It is important for expats to consider whether pre-existing insurance can be used abroad or even consider if a health insurance policy can be negotiated into an employment package.

Health care in Ireland

Dental Care

Similarly to with medical care dental care can be subsidized or even paid for completely by a medical card however in the majority of cases it will be necessary to have insurance.

In terms of orthodontic care the Health Service Executive (HSE) can provide subsidies or pay for severe orthodontic care for those under 16 years of age.

Pharmacies and Prescriptions

Pharmacies are very accessible in Ireland with 24 hour opening times in cities and are often open late in smaller areas. Prescription medication is free of charge to those with a medical card however there is also a cap under the Drug Payment Scheme which means that monthly subscriptions cannot be charged more than €144 per month.

Satisfaction rates

Satisfaction rates with medical care are high in Ireland with. A 2007 study found that 97% of patients were satisfied with the quality of care that they were given, which is much higher than the European average.

One of the reasons Irelands hospitals are so good is due to the high quality of the education. For more information on how the education system in Ireland works click here.