The health system in Ireland

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Updated 2021-01-08 13:33

While the health system in Ireland often comes in for a hard time, there are also some positive aspects to it. There are differences as to what you are eligible to receive as part of the health system, depending on if you are an Irish citizen or not. This article dives into what expatriates can expect from the health system in Ireland.

An outlook of the local healthcare system

The Health Services Executive (HSE) is the provider of public healthcare in Ireland. The government funds this program to look after the health needs of the people. Once you have been living in Ireland for at least a year, you will be entitled to take advantage of this system. 

There are two separate categories to the healthcare system. Category 1 is for those people who have medical cards, and category 2 is for those without medical cards.

To qualify for a medical card, you need to meet certain means and income standards. About 30% of the population has a medical card which offers a number of different benefits. You can get free access to local doctors, hospitals and dental care to name but a few of the services on offer for free. 

For those people that do not have medical cards, there will be charges for a lot of different medical-related services. There is a long term illness scheme which can help those who do not qualify for a medical card but are struggling with a serious illness.

Health benefits for expatriates in Ireland

If you are an expat and you have been in Ireland for at least a year, you are deemed to be an ‘ordinary resident', and you will be entitled to use the public health system. There are also ways to get access to the free public health system if you have been in Ireland for less than a year, but you can prove that you are going to be living in the country for the long term. 

Hospitals and clinics in Ireland

There are public and private hospitals and clinics dotted across Ireland. Most of the major tons will have a general hospital that will treat in-patients, out-patients and day patients. This will also have an accident and emergency department. 

For those towns without a general hospital, they will be looked after by a regional hospital. Certain rural areas will have access to district hospitals. 

Certain hospitals will specialise in different kinds of treatment or patient types, such as for women, children and mental health. There are also private hospitals and high tech hospitals. The three high tech hospitals are only covered by the best types of private health insurance. 

Eligibility for healthcare in Ireland

If you are an EU citizen, you will have coverage in Ireland thanks to the European Health Insurance Card. Once you have this card, you will then get treated just like any Irish citizen no matter if you are permanently in the country or only visiting. 

For non-EEA nationals, there may be requirements for you to have some form of private medical insurance to look after your healthcare needs. 

As mentioned, once you have stayed in Ireland for at least one year, you are eligible to take advantage of the public healthcare system. 

Health insurance in Ireland

Due to significant wait times at public hospitals and the need to pay for certain types of treatments, many people will also have private medical insurance. Some employers will offer special packages in this regard or else you will have to get it under your own initiative. The cost of this insurance will vary depending on different variables, including age and health history. The average annual cost is around the EUR1,858 mark. 

There are many insurance companies to choose from in Ireland, according to your needs and budget. Cigna Global is one of the leading health insurance providers worldwide. Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on Expat.com's Health Insurance for expatriates in Ireland page.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.