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7 Important Tips about Healthcare for Expats in Ireland

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Expats in Ireland share tips and advice about healthcare and health insurance in Ireland. Advice about Irish hospitals, having a baby in Ireland, medical care in rural areas of Ireland and more.

Expats in Ireland - 7 Important Tips about Healthcare for Expats in Ireland

Expats in Ireland offer advice to newcomers and those preparing to move to Ireland about health insurance for expats in Ireland and healthcare. They offer advice about private vs. public healthcare in Ireland, costs of health insurance for expats, enrolling in the public health insurance system, having a baby in Ireland and more.

Public vs. Private Healthcare in Ireland

In a discussion about advice on moving to Ireland, one woman stated, "So we are considering a move to Ireland, we are from Australia. Husband is British/German/Australian so we won't need any visas for him, and, for me, it would be the visa for European spouses. Also, how good is the public healthcare? Would we need to go private? " One expat answered, "We found the medical system good (Bantry Medical Centre), very caring though we are in good health for our ages. My understanding is a Medical Card is means tested," said one expat. "Ireland has a different system than the US - with both public and private hospitals. There are only 4 or 5 health insurers and many different plans. Medical cards and doctor visit cards are means tested but you have to be here for a minimum of 12 months (Google Habitual Residency Condition) and may need to have worked here, so doubt you'd qualify. Am not sure we can answer your question as your Medicare won't cover you here and depending on your residency/citizenship status you could be paying out of pocket as non-EU citizen. As far as I know, you'd need to look into private health insurance," explained one expat in a thread about Health care & insurance.

Immigration or Citizenship Status Has Greatest Influence on Healthcare Costs in Ireland

In a discussion about the cost of living for retirees, one expat commented, "What I am telling you is; it is different depending on what your immigration or citizenship status is and if you can get a US Medicare Advantage Plan that gives partial or full coverage outside the US. healthcare is going to be the most important and possibly the most expensive part of moving to Ireland. You people need to understand, Ireland is not a cheap country to move to unless one has family connections there and is able to get a Irish passport. Even then it is not so cheap."

Private Health Insurance for Expats in Ireland

"If retiring to Ireland as a non citizen or non EU citizen you have to abide by Ireland's residency rules -- basically you have to prove you have X amount of money, a set amount annually, plus X amount of savings so you don't become a burden on the state. You also have to have health insurance, to access private hospital and physicians as well as state hospitals," said one expat.

If you are not yet eligible for public healthcare or wish to have private health insurance, get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Comprehensive Health Insurance Requirement for Stamp O

"Part of INIS' Stamp 0 problem is that the rules are more like guidelines which discourages people from applying due to confusion about the requirements. I am thinking they may want it this way as it limits the number of applicants and gives them more power to decide who comes in? Things still have not changed much since 2015. Under the currently published rules, applicants for Stamp 0 still need to: move to Ireland; establish a permanent home; buy a comprehensive private health care insurance policy; and hire an accountant to compile documentation. And only then apply for the Stamp 0 for which there is no form and written guidelines outlining: what types of income will count; what types of insurance will count; how much cash on hand is required and what form should it take; what exchange rate is used to convert e.g. USD to Euros; how does cash or other assets get converted to income and what types of investments or businesses can Stamp 0 holders engage in while resident in Ireland. I am sure I missed a few things but that's a lot of unknowns and vagaries," explained one expat living in Ireland.

Having a Baby in Ireland

An expat who had a baby in Dublin as a public patient described her experience, "I didn't choose [my doctor]. I went public. I saw many doctors and only had 2 scans before having the baby ( I had to request the second as an Abnormality Scan). Don't expect any luxuries from the Irish medical experience! Expect a lot of old-fashioned attitude too. Try to befriend the younger Irish nurses and midwives, as these are the ones who are more breastfeeding-friendly and sympahetic. I was shocked and sickened at the dirty bathrooms. Couldn't wait to get out of there and am dreading the next time I go. I should have got Private Medical insurance, but even with this, a private room is not guaranteed. I know two people who had insurance and still had to room with other mothers and babies. I didn't have to pay anything for the birth."

Another mom who had a baby in Cork, Ireland said, "We were paying into private health insurance but could not afford to pay for a private room. So, I had to share a room with 3 mothers and 3 babies. The babies sleep in the room with you, and, if the babies are extremely colicky or the mother is having issues, good luck trying to sleep! I did not sleep for two days while I was in the hospital and even requested that nurse give me a sleeping pill. No joke! It was hell! I was so glad to go home and finally sleep. Yes, I had more rest being a first time mom at home."

Healthcare in Rural vs Urban Ireland

When choosing where to live in Ireland, you may want to read, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland. One person considering retirement asked, "Can American Retirees live in Ireland?" A retiree answered, "Mayo is a fine place to retire, and cheaper to buy a home for the most part than more popular tourist areas or Dublin. We picked our location in Mayo (Lough Mask) based on nearby med services. There is a good hospital in Castlebar (though, I've no personal experience there) and we live about 25 KM away. Ambulance available and doctors on call to the house 24/7. Not isolated and good roads. Neighbors always eager to help. I haven't had any med issues requiring more than visit to GP, but everyone here seems to live to 85 or 90 or more despite not having US style med care. Will say moving to Ireland was best decision of my life."

Cost of Prescription Medicine in Ireland

An expat recently posted, "My wife came out of the local pharmacy nearly in tears today. "What's wrong," I ask. "I never want to leave this place," she replies. Seems her new prescription of some injections was (as we were warned) expensive. The pharmacist, along with her entire crew were aghast at the cost. You see here, there's a plan anyone can sign up for that caps your monthly pharmacy costs at €144 per month. You just have to be a resident, not a citizen... unless you're on the dreaded Stamp 0. These meds came to €287. The pharmacist searched all over the country to see if she could find a lower cost, and when she couldn't, she sold it to us at HER cost, with much apology for not being able to do better than that....(Try that at your local CVS...)"

If you are living in Ireland, we encourage you to help others following in your footsteps by completing our Healthcare Report. If you've had a baby in Ireland, take a few minutes to complete the Having a Baby Abroad report. Your time, tips and advice are incredibly helpful to others moving to Ireland. Thank you!

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

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Comments about this Article

Oct 17, 2017 08:44

Great article, thanks for sharing!

First Published: Sep 20, 2017

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