Health and Medical Care

Ireland’s healthcare is efficient, safe and one of the best in the world. Expats are eligible to qualify for free health care or subsidised health services which is funded by the government. Ireland has a tax funded health service executive (HSE) which is responsible for providing healthcare services to each resident of Ireland.

Expats who move to the country will have an option in using the government funded public health care or private health care.

Public Healthcare Services

The public health care system provides some free services to those who are an ordinary resident i.e. currently living in Ireland or are intended to stay for a year. Some treatments will require a fee for patients who do not have a Medical card.

A medical card is for those who are on a low income, have an illness or disability which entitles them to all medical, dental and optical services without having to pay any fees. Expats who are of EU countries and have a European health insurance card also have access to free emergency care facilities as well as those who have been transferred to the country to work on a temporary basis.

Although the public healthcare system is of a high quality, patients will find that waiting lists are long and appointments are usually overbooked for operations. This is one of the reasons why people choose to get private health insurance.

Private Healthcare

There are many private health clinics and services available in Ireland which many people choose to take out. The private health care system requires patients to pay for the full cost of the treatment, pay for all hospital services and the doctor’s fees.

Private health care can be provided in public hospitals with patients having their own private beds.

Health Insurance

Those who are not eligible for a medical card may be able to get a GP visit card or will be on the long term illness scheme. Regardless of this, most expats and citizens do choose to have private health insurance as it allows them to receive immediate treatment.

Expats who are moving to Ireland to work will find that their employer may pay for their private health care insurance. You must find this out when signing your contract.

Taxpayers in Ireland can claim tax relief on their medical expenses which have not been covered by either of the private or public health insurance


In Ireland there are many pharmacies available in the towns and cities.

For those who have a medical card, they will not be charged for any medicine that has been prescribed to them.

Ordinary residents are eligible to apply for a drugs payment scheme which limits how much residents can pay for medicine that is prescribed.

Public and Private hospitals have an A&E department for emergencies. Patients who do not have a Medical Card or have been referred by a GP will be charged for these services.