How the Irish healthcare system works when you relocate to Ireland
Ireland has a public healthcare system, run by the government funded Health Service Executive (HSE). There are also private care options accessed through medical insurance companies. Once you’re in the state-funded healthcare system, clinicians and expertise are excellent. The difficulty is getting there.
Not to put a dampener on your enthusiasm for relocating, but the state system is far from perfect. In 2021 the creditable CEO World Rankings pegged Ireland at 80th in the world for healthcare, yet it is one of the highest spenders on healthcare per capita.
Most people who can afford it sign up for private health insurance, which can speed up waiting lists considerably. If you’re new in the country, the rules are that you cannot access government healthcare within the first 12 months of arriving. So medical insurance is essential.
The 3 tiers of public healthcare in Ireland
There are three different tiers of public healthcare, mainly based on how much you earn:
- Medical Card – Those with the lowest incomes are eligible for a medical card.
- GP Card – If you’re over 70 years old or under six, you qualify automatically for a GP visit card, which allows you to see your doctor for free.
- Everyone else – If you don’t have a medical card or GP visit card, you’ll have to pay a fee to see a GP – usually between €40 and €60.
Charges for in-patient care in Irish state hospitals
You may also face what the Irish government calls ‘hospital charges’.
- For in-patient care, you may be charged €80 per day, up to a maximum of €800 over a rolling 12-month period.
- You may be excused from paying a fee, if you’re receiving maternity care or being treated for COVID-19 or for babies under 6 weeks of age. A full list of exceptions is available on the HSE website.
- If you require out-patient services, there is a flat €100 charge, unless you’ve been referred by your GP.There are other exceptions, including those with COVID-19, and children with certain conditions.
- Long-stay patients have their charges capped at different amounts, depending on their income.
Private medial and insurance in Ireland
The average annual cost of Irish health insurance per adult was €1,412 in September 2022, which translates to €117,66 per month. Of course this does depend on the type of cover you choose and your family situation. You can do your research and apply online, however, it does get a bit tricky comparing plans. A great place to start looking is through Cornmarket which does all the comparisons for you. Simply request a callback on their website.
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