Explore our curated brochure on health insurance in Ireland
It might be tempting to use a European Health Insurance Card for healthcare expenses in Ireland. However, this card covers only occasional stays, not residents. Moreover, access to the local health insurance scheme is limited during your first year, even as an employee. Expat health insurance will ensure your private healthcare expenses are well reimbursed – unless you prefer to wait your turn indefinitely in the public sector.
|Healthcare expenditure per capita||€4166|
|Annual indexation of health expenses||4%|
|Hospitalization reimbursement rate for French nationals with CFE||42%|
|Number of insurance companies making offers||13|
|Annual cost of hospitalization coverage for 30-year-olds||€720|
|Annual cost of hospitalization coverage for 50-year-olds||€1360|
If you are an EU resident, the European Health Insurance Card will cover you during a short stay in Ireland. However, the EHIC is not a permanent health insurance solution, and cannot be used in the case of expatriation for more than 6 months outside your country of origin. You will have to use an appropriate expat insurance or a local insurance (if this suits you). We’ll explain why below.
For additional information regarding the EHIC, we invite you to consult the page we have dedicated to it here.
In Ireland, the level of care is good in both the public and private sectors, however the public sector suffers from a certain lack of staf,f and waiting times can be particularly long.
The private sector is therefore sought after for the availability of practitioners – but costs are much higher, expensive even (much more so than in France). It’s become essential for Irish residents who want private medical care to have supplementary health insurance to offset these costs with better reimbursements.
This is especially true since payment is expected up front for all routine medical care.
In general, healthcare costs in Ireland are relatively high. Higher than in France or Germany, for example.
A consultation with a general practitioner will cost between €30 and €65, while a specialist consultation can reach €150. Physicians' fees are subject to change depending on the services provided in addition to the consultation.
As a private patient, all routine care expenses will be at your expense, so the importance of having complementary health insurance is clear for both locals and expatriates.
200 expatriate insurance plans compared in just 2mn
If you stay in Ireland for more than six months, you will need to change your social security system, as the social security of your country of origin won’t cover you anymore. Moreover, as a worker in Ireland, you will be obliged to join the Irish healthcare system.
Ireland offers general healthcare coverage for all statuses, with some limitations for self-employed individuals, based on a contribution system called PRSI (Pay-Related Social Insurance). Your rate of contribution will depend on your age, your gross income, your employment status, your sector of activity, etc. There are 11 categories in total.
This Irish health scheme covers all risks: sickness, maternity, disability, old age, survivors, industrial injuries, occupational illnesses, and unemployment. It is financed by contributions to the PRSI. Taxes also finance unemployment allowances, as well as family benefits and some health insurance services.
Newcomers are not eligible for Irish health coverage for one year. You must obtain ordinary “resident” status to be eligible. However, it’s still important to go in person to a local welfare office when you arrive and ask for your Personal Public Service Number (PPS), which is the equivalent of your French social security number. The PPS consists of seven numbers and two letters.
It’s possible to schedule your interview with the Social Welfare Local Office before your departure or on site; simply make an appointment online on the Irish health insurance website. You will need to bring your ID, proof of address, and documents establishing your residence in Ireland, in addition to ID photos.
Once you are covered by the Irish social security system, your contribution category will determine your level of health coverage: full or partial eligibility. In the first case, healthcare costs are mostly free, and in the second case, you will have to contribute to the costs – making complementary health insurance very useful.
Full eligibility allows you to obtain a medical card. With this card, physician consultations are free and pharmacy co-pays are reduced to €2.50 (up to €25 per month). Some (limited) dental expenses are covered, and hospitalization is fully covered in the public sector.
About 30% of the Irish population has full eligibility. These include: children under 6, people over 70, and certain income groups (under certain conditions), as well as pregnant women and students between 16 and 25 years of age still living with their parents (with maximum income conditions for students).
The income conditions that determine full eligibility are:
- For those under 66: max. €184/week for a single person, or €266.50/week for a couple;
- For those under 70: €201.50/week for a single person, or €298/week for a couple;
- For those over 70: €500/week for a single person, or €900/week for a couple.
Pregnant women who are recognized as Irish residents have access to free maternity care. Dental care is free for children under 6, for public school students up to age 16, and for the eligible categories listed above (with restrictions).
Long-term illnesses are also covered. A list is available, to check if you are eligible for coverage.
Partial Eligibility (majority of residents):
If you do not have a medical card, you will be obliged to cover your healthcare costs yourself, and a complementary health insurance will be very useful.
A general practitioner consultation will cost you €45 on average (from €30 to €65), and up to €150 for specialist consultations. It’s important to know that physicians adapt their rates according to the services added to the consultation, adding fees for services like: notes for sick leave, vaccinations, regular prescription renewals, etc. By the way, you will need a referral from your general practitioner to consult a specialist.
However, when your pharmacy costs exceed €144/month, you will be able to get a reimbursement by registering with a pharmacy in the Drug Payment Scheme.
A consultation in a public hospital without a prescription from your GP will cost you a flat fee of €100 for the first consultation, and subsequent follow-up consultations will not be charged. And in case of hospitalization (always in a public hospital), each night will be incur a charge of €80 for a common room, up to a limit of €800 per year, and €175 per week in the case of long-term hospitalization.
If you are admitted as a private patient, all costs will be your responsibility, so the importance of having complementary health insurance is clear.
Local insurance vs international insurance
As an expat, you will have the choice to sign up for local private health insurance or an expatriate health insurance to keep your healthcare costs down.
A local policy will cover your healthcare expenses only in Ireland. It will not allow you to be reimbursed for incidental expenses you may have in your home country or elsewhere in the world.
The cost of local private insurance generally depends on your age range and medical history (based on a medical questionnaire). According to the Health Insurance Authority, the average cost of private health insurance is approximately €1,858/year.
Global health insurance for expatriates will offer you a good level of reimbursement in Ireland, but will also allow you to continue to be covered in your home country. This is essential when something serious happens, as it means you can be treated in a familiar healthcare system.
Expatriate insurance rates will likewise depend on your age group and your history, as with local insurance. However, unlike local policies, the medical questionnaire will only be presented to you once, at the time of purchase. The global insurer will not re-evaluate your rate the following year (except in the case of a change in coverage, for example).
Whether you sign up for reimbursement as your sole policy or as a supplement to, for example, CFE (the Fund for French Nationals Abroad) coverage, your insurer will directly pay for any hospitalization lasting more than 24 hours; you will have to make an up-front payment for all other expenses and request reimbursement.
Today, insurers offer various digital tools (online customer service platforms, mobile apps, email) to facilitate your requests for reimbursement. These don't take as long as they used to when bills were sent by mail – you can get your reimbursements pretty quickly now.
The process of subscribing to expatriate coverage is more complex than for traditional health insurance. It is therefore advisable to apply about 30 days before your departure from your country of origin.
Our website allows you to request a quote online and compare coverage options.
An adviser can then help you with the entire sign-up process.