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Our complete guide to understanding the importance of international health insurance

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All About Medical Insurance in Ireland



Knowing about medical insurance in Ireland is crucial if you are thinking about moving to this country. The public health system is open to foreigners under certain conditions. But the use of a private policy is almost unavoidable.

Find out everything you need to know to travel safely!

The HSE: Public Health Insurance in Ireland

How Does Health Insurance Work?

There is public health insurance in Ireland through the Health Service Executive (HSE). It’s subsidized by the state and financed by the contributions of the insured according to their income, age, and sector of activity.

Ireland has 45 public hospitals and 19 private hospitals. Doctors often work in both sectors.

The quality of care is good in both sectors. But the public system suffers from delays in treatment, and waiting times are often long.

Health Insurance in Ireland: Cost and Facilities

Health care costs are generally higher in Ireland than in other European countries.

Each center is free to set its own prices. And you should expect to pay an average of around 50 euros to see a general practitioner and more than 100 euros for a specialist.

A daily contribution of 80 euros is required for hospitalization in a shared room.

The price of consultations is higher in the private sector. And also varies according to the services rendered: vaccinations, prescription renewals, and sick leave are charged extra.

Due to these high costs is highly recommended to get private medical insurance in Ireland.

Being Covered by Medical Insurance in Ireland

Different Levels of Coverage

The public system offers two levels of coverage, depending on the income of the insured: full or partial.

The lowest income group benefits from the Medical Card. It offers members of the same household free consultations, maternity, dental and ophthalmic care. As well as a reduced flat-rate contribution for pharmacies.

In case of limited resources but ineligibility for the Medical Card, it is possible to benefit from the GP Visit Card. It offers free general practitioner consultations, free diagnostic, and free blood tests.

This card is automatically given to children up to 6 years old and people over 70 years old.

Private Medical Insurance for Ireland

Irish residents who are not eligible for the Medical Card or GP Visit Card are required to pay a co-payment for the care received. Pregnant women, infants, and chronically ill patients are exempt from this fee.

The out-of-pocket expenses can be high, especially for patients with specific medical conditions. This is why Ireland has one of the highest rates of privately insured patients in Europe (40%).

Waiting times in the public system also explain this recourse to private insurance.

When talking about private policies, it’s important to remember that health insurance in Ireland costs more the more complete is its coverage.

Is the HSE a Good Option for Expat Health Insurance in Ireland?

The public health system is open to all residents (except non-EU students). This includes expatriates, if they have been living in the country for at least one year, have applied for a PPS (equivalent to a social security number), and have registered with their local health office.

Without affiliation to the public health insurance in Ireland, all health care costs have to be paid by the patient.

What Is the Best Private Health Insurance in Ireland?

What Are the Solutions Available in the Market?

For short stays, it is possible to use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It allows you to benefit from the same medical coverage as Irish residents. And can be enough in case of a small health problem.

For expatriates, or to deal with any unforeseen problems, it is advisable to take out private health insurance.

Opting for an international insurance policy is better than getting an Irish one. The international one is valid throughout the world. For example during your vacations outside Ireland.

Be careful, however: taking out private insurance does not exempt you from contributing to the HSE!

Social Security With a Supplementary Policy

In some countries, when a citizen moves abroad, they can still be covered by Social Security. This solution is often advantageous for young people or people with pre-existing medical conditions, as no health questionnaire is required.

However, the reimbursements are based on your home country’s health care rates. Which might be lower than those in Ireland, and are therefore insufficient.

It is generally necessary to have supplementary insurance to be better covered. This increases the global cost of medical insurance in Ireland. And it can complicate the management of the refunds and procedures in certain cases.

Private Medical Insurance for Ireland From the 1st Euro

When discussing what is the best private health insurance in Ireland, most expats often recommend the policies known as “1st euro”.

Many levels of coverage are available on the market, which makes it a very flexible insurance solution.

These contracts offer very good value for money. Because the care is covered up to the real amount of the expenses incurred, from the first euro spent.

However, there is a compulsory medical questionnaire at the time of enrollment. And it can increase the cost of the fees, or generate certain exclusions of cover in the case of chronic illness.

Using a comparison tool to obtain online quotes will allow everyone to find the best health insurance for their particular needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Insurance in Ireland

What Is the HSE?

The Health Service Executive is Ireland’s public health insurance system. It is subsidized by the government and funded by the contributions of the insured.

Is It Important to Have Private Health Insurance in Ireland?

Yes, Ireland has one of the highest rates of citizens using private insurances in Europe. And the same applies to foreign residents. The cost of care is high, and the services are better in the private sector. The most common private expat health insurance in Ireland is the one called “1st euro policy”.

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