Private health insurance is an optional product chosen by around half of residents in Ireland.

Although there’s no legal obligation to buy private health insurance unless it’s a visa requirement, you may find it beneficial if you take a proactive approach to your health.

Primary care is available for all residents on the public health system provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE). However, you will pay fees and encounter waitlists and roadblocks on the public health system, particularly if you pursue secondary health care (e.g., consultants, optional procedures provided in hospitals) without a pressing medical need.

You may not need private health insurance in Ireland, but many people do want it. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of private health insurance in Ireland.

What does private health insurance in Ireland offer?

You will get all the care you need through the public system. GP appointments, consultant referrals, maternity care, surgeries, treatments, and accident and emergency care are all available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

So what does private health insurance offer?

Private health insurance is popular because it grants you options. You can choose from more GPs, consultants, and hospitals when you opt for the private health system. Though, your insurance policy will strictly outline those options for you, so it’s important to read your policy carefully if you have specific preferences or needs.

The primary selling point of private health insurance is that you can use the public health system when it benefits you and switch to the private healthcare system when you won’t get what you want from the HSE.

Who must buy private medical insurance in Ireland?

If you are an Irish, European Economic Area (EEA), or UK national, you don’t need private medical insurance in Ireland at any point.

However, there is a legal obligation to buy private medical insurance if you are a non-EU national on a visa in Ireland.

Non-EU students, in particular, must obtain private health insurance as you can’t access any type of publicly funded benefits, including the HSE. Your coverage must begin the day you arrive and continue until you leave Ireland.

The visas requiring private insurance include:

  • Stamp 0
  • Stamp 2
  • Stamp 2A

You should check the visa rules on the INIS website for more information on your rights.

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