Healthcare in Ireland

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Healthcare Information for working in Ireland

Public Heath Care
If you are a European Union (EU)/EEA/Swiss national or if you are normally resident in Ireland, you are entitled to receive the same level of health care as Irish citizens. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a medical card, which entitles you to the full range of medical services at no cost. If you are not from an EU/EEA member State, you will be entitled to certain services free of charge and you will have to pay for the remainder.

Entitlement to Public Health Services
You are entitled to a range of public health services, which are free of charge or subsidised by the government, if you are living in Ireland - the legal term is "ordinarily resident". Visitors to Ireland may be entitled to free and/or subsidised services in certain circumstances.

Medical Card Holders
The Irish population is divided into two groups for the purposes of eligibility for health services - medical card holders and non-medical card holders.

About one-third of the population hold medical cards, which entitle them to receive services free of charge.

Non-Medical Card holders
If you do not have a medical card, you are entitled to free public hospital services but you may have to pay in-patient and out-patient hospital charges. You are also entitled to subsidised prescribed drugs and medicines and maternity and infant care services and you may be entitled to free or subsidised community care and personal social services.
  • You are not entitled to free GP services.
  • You may be entitled to some community care and personal social services.
Short-term Visitors to Ireland
Visitors from EU Member States are entitled to urgent medical treatment here without charge provided they present the E111 form. Visitors from the United Kingdom do not require the E111 form. Evidence of residence in the United Kingdom may be required e.g. social security documentation or driving licence.

General Practitioners
General Practitioner (GP) is the official term for the doctor in Ireland who provides services to people in his/her surgery or in the patient's home. Most people simply refer to GPs as their doctor or family doctor.

GPs provide services to medical card holders free of charge. Certain GPs provide maternity and infant welfare services and services to people with Hepatitis C who contracted the disease through the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D or from the receipt within Ireland of any blood product or a blood transfusion and who have a Health Amendment Act Card, free of charge. Other patients must pay for GP service.

Emergency Services
GPs are expected to provide or arrange for the provision of appropriate emergency services for their own patients. Rota systems may exist to provide cross cover arrangements of other doctors in out-of-hours situations.

Hospital Services
Everyone is entitled to free public hospital services subject to small daily in-patient charges. Many people take out private health insurance to enable them to choose private care in public hospitals or private hospitals.

Charges for H ospital Services
Everyone living in Ireland and certain visitors to Ireland are entitled to free maintenance and treatment in public beds in health board, area health board and voluntary hospitals. Some people may have to pay some hospital charges. Holders of medical cards and certain other groups do not have to pay charges.

There are daily in-patient charges, an out-patient charge and some long-term stay charges. If you go to the out-patients, accident and emergency or casualty department of a public hospital without being referred there by your family doctor (GP), you may be charged €45. There is no charge if you are referred by a GP.

In-patient Charges in Public Hospitals
If you are in a public ward under the care of a consultant for treatment and you remain overnight, you are receiving in-patient services. If you are admitted to the hospital under the care of a consultant where you do not require the use of a bed overnight and your discharge from hospital is planned, you are receiving day services. The charge for in-patient/day services is €45 per day up to a maximum of €450 in a year.

Accident and Emergency/Casualty
Most general hospitals and some specialist hospitals have accident and emergency or casualty departments which patients may attend without being referred by a GP. If you attend without a GP referral, you will be charged €45. However, if you have to return for further visits in relation to the same illness or accident, you do not have to pay the charge again.

Entitlement to Free Care
Everyone is entitled to public in-patient and out-patient services but some people may have to pay some hospital charges. Entitlement to free care means that you are entitled to a bed in a public ward and free consultant services while you are there and to out-patient services in a public hospital. If you avail of private treatment either in a private bed in a public hospital or in a private hospital, you have to pay for your maintenance and treatment.

Private Health Insurance in Ireland
In addition to the public health system, people in Ireland can avail of a range of private health care services. You must pay the full costs of treatment if you opt for private health care. There are two private health insurance companies in Ireland - VHI and BUPA. As long as you are from the EU/EEA/Switzerland or normally resident in Ireland, you are entitled to the same benefits from your private health insurance with either of these two companies as any other Irish citizen. Your private health insurance premium attracts tax relief at the standard rate (20%).

Further information:

Department of Health and Children

Hawkins House
Hawkins Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 635 4000
Fax: (01) 635 4001


Health Insurance Authority

Canal House
Canal Road
Dublin 6
Tel: (01) 406 0080
Fax: (01) 406 0081