Ireland’s healthcare system is divided into public and private tiers.


Ireland’s public healthcare system offers world-class care, partly funded by the government.

If you are “ordinarily resident”, you can access a range of public health services that are free of charge or subsidised by the Irish government’s Health Service Executive (HSE). (You are considered to be “ordinarily resident” if you have been living in Ireland for at least one year – or you intend to live in the country for at least one year.)

Holders of a European Health Insurance Card are entitled to the same health care as those ordinarily resident. However, high-earners are liable for subsidised hospital charges of up to €66 per day, capped at €660 in any 12-month period.

Medical cards

If you have a Medical Card you are entitled to full access to public health services. If you don’t, your access is more limited. A medical card is issued by a Health Service Executive (HSE) Area in Ireland. There’s more information from the HSE’s website and you can also apply online for a medical card.

If you are coming from an EU member state, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the National Contact Point in your home country which can clarify your entitlement to free healthcare in Ireland. Services available under the Cross Border Directive are determined by governing legislation in the applicant’s member state of residence. The UK and Republic of Ireland governments are working to ensure that reciprocal arrangements for the reimbursement of healthcare costs will continue post-Brexit.

The HSE have further details on the public hospital system in Ireland and how to apply for benefits and schemes that can help with healthcare costs.


While basic health is covered by the HSE, certain health needs are not. Visits to accident and emergency (A&E), hospital inpatient care and some medicines attract charges. Private health insurance can help you meet these expenses. Compare Ireland’s private health insurance plans at the Health Insurance Authority. Please note that if you are from a non-EU state you must have private health insurance in Ireland.

Private care at hospitals

In Ireland, public hospitals treat both public and private patients; private hospitals treat private patients only. On admittance to a public hospital, patients make a choice to be treated on a public or private basis by their consultant.

Private hospitals and clinics supply more than 1 in every 6 hospital beds in the country and care for 400,000 patients every year. The following are located in the Dublin area – if you have health insurance it may cover the cost of treatment at these hospitals; your insurer or the hospital itself can tell you if you are covered.

General Practitioners (GP)

A General Practitioner (GP) is a doctor who provides health services to people in his/her surgery (office) or in the patient’s home. If you do not have a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card you will have to pay for this service.

The fees for GP services are not set but a charge of approximately €60 per visit is typical. Contact your local surgery directly to find out what the cost of a visit will be. The HSE has a list of GPs near you.


If your GP thinks you need to see a specialist and you want to pay for it privately, they can write a letter of referral to a private consultant or specialist explaining your condition and your medical history.

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