Healthcare Information and Solutions for Expats in Ireland
Expats moving to Ireland embrace the country’s culture and are cordially greeted by natives. Ireland is a great location in Europe for expatriates and has a thriving economy, especially in the pharmacy industry. Healthcare in Ireland is of top-notch quality and all your health needs can be met there. Expats in Ireland are eligible for government-funded public health services, which are either free or subsidized. The Irish healthcare system is a two-tier system in which public or private healthcare facilities can be availed depending on an individual’s specific circumstances. Each resident is entitled to basic free public healthcare.
Overview of Healthcare in Ireland
The government-funded Health Services Executive (HSE) looks into Ireland’s public healthcare program, which covers all healthcare needs. You can avail HSE if you have lived in Ireland for a year and qualify as an ‘ordinary resident’.
Public healthcare in Ireland deals with two categories of patients:
Category 1 includes those with Medical Cards who are fully entitled to avail public health services. This is also known as the “Irish Medical Card” care. Under this section, about 40 percent of people get free medical aid.
Category 2 consists of those without Medical Cards who have only limited access to the same and pay a subsidized fee for every appointment. A Medical Card is allotted to an individual according to their income, age, illness AND/OR extent of disability.
The drawback with public healthcare systems – which otherwise offer the same quality care as private hospitals – is that they are overbooked and even in emergencies, people may be kept waiting. Citizens of countries in the European Union, who have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), can avail free or discounted emergency care in public facilities in Ireland.
Patients visiting private hospitals in Ireland have to bear the total cost of treatment. However, if you have a private insurance policy, you can enjoy top-quality healthcare facilities in private hospitals because these policies will cover various costs incurred during a particular treatment. Through an international health plan, you can even visit the country’s ‘high-tech’ hospitals and avoid the long waiting periods usually associated with public healthcare. There are some excellent hospitals in Ireland, as there are throughout Europe.
How the Irish Healthcare System Works for Expats?
Though standards of healthcare in Ireland are very high, it’s much more affordable here than in other countries, including the United States. Nearly 9% of people qualify for the GP Visit Card, which includes free visits by doctors, but not free tests and prescriptions.
Everyone who has the legal documents to live in Ireland – including those with employment permits. Those seeking asylum, and students – and intends to live there for more than one year can apply for a Medical Card or GP Visit Card.
Here’s what expats need to do to get access to healthcare and other government services in Ireland:
- Go to your local health clinic, fill your application form and submit it to a GP.
- Bring along all the legal documents mentioned above as proof that you are an “ordinary resident”.
- For your income to be certified, the form has to be signed by the employers.
- As for those self-employed, like digital nomads, produce as proof your latest tax assessment form.
- All you have to prove is that you are employed and self-sufficient.
- Finally, return to your local health center with all the documents.
If you fail to qualify for the Medical Card system, you will again be evaluated for the GP Visit Card system. If you are found ineligible in both cases, you will be informed by mail. You will also get the required guidance to get your concerns redressed.
Pharmacies in Ireland for Expatriates
There are pharmacies across several Irish cities, but only a few are open 24X7. Expats, who are ‘ordinary residents, can have access to the Drugs Payment Scheme. The scheme puts a cap on the sum a person or family in Ireland has to shell out each month to purchase prescribed medicines. The government takes care of the cost above the capped limit.
Emergency Medical Care in Ireland
In the Irish health system, both private and public hospitals have Accident and Emergency departments to deal with serious emergencies. To get an ambulance in an emergency, expats can dial 999 or 112. Patients who do not have a Medical Card or have not been referred by a GP may be charged for A&E services.
If you are from the EU, you may get free medical treatment in emergencies if you have your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Those from the UK don’t require the card. However, if you are from outside the EU except for Australia, you will have to bear the total cost. So make sure you find a travel insurance plan before you move to Ireland.
Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats in Ireland
You can choose from a vast range of global healthcare facilities and doctors if you have private international health insurance. We recommend three options for expatriates moving to Ireland – all of which are excellent choices for foreigners in Ireland. The first is the Cigna Global Medical Plan. The second is the GeoBlue Xplorer plan, primarily for US citizens in Ireland. The Allianz global health plan is particularly suited to expats in Ireland. This plan gives you access to the top-quality Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) network of doctors and hospitals. That are among the best in the world. Expat Financial will offer you the right guidance to ensure that you choose an international health cover that suits your needs.