Are you moving or returning to Ireland? You might wonder if you need health insurance.

The Irish healthcare system differs from other European countries. Unlike the UK, Ireland doesn’t provide comprehensive primary care for all residents. And unlike The Netherlands, there’s no compulsory private health insurance required for all residents.

You have the option to buy private health insurance in Ireland. However, you may find health insurance opens up more options in the healthcare system.

Who can access public healthcare in Ireland?

Anyone who is ordinarily resident in Ireland can access public healthcare, including general physician services, in-patient, and out-patient services. You don’t need private healthcare to visit the GP, go to A&E, or get access to services provided by the Health Service Executive.

Public healthcare in Ireland covers most care the average person will need. However, you only access your care based on your clinical need. In other words, you will get emergency and life-saving care quickly in the public system. You will also never been turned away based on your ability to pay. Though, you must typically pay a fee for services, unless you qualify for a Medical Card.

At the same time, using the HSE can mean remaining on a waiting list, particularly for inpatient and day cases. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed waiting times, the issue with wait times has been a problem for many years. You can expect to wait for procedures in orthopaedics, otolaryngology (ENT), dermatology, ophthalmology, general surgery, urology, and gynaecology.
When should you choose private health insurance in Ireland?
Private health insurance is an optional purchase for residents of Ireland. If you are ordinarily resident in Ireland, you will get access to the care you need within the public system.

When should you consider choosing private cover? The main benefits include:

  • Private or shared rooms in public, private, or high-tech hospitals
  • In-patient consultant services, including diagnostic appointments and procedures
  • Whole health services, including out-patient, psychiatric, maternity, fertility, and overseas benefits

Having private health insurance means you can choose between public care and private care, based on what suits your needs at the time.

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