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Westport, Ireland

15 Expats Talk about Health Insurance and Healthcare in Ireland

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 12, 2023

Summary: The quality of medical care in Ireland is generally considered to be on par with the United States. Ireland has a well-developed healthcare system, with a wide range of services available to citizens and visitors alike. Emergency services are generally reliable and efficient, with ambulances responding quickly to calls. To call for an ambulance in Ireland, dial 112 or 999.

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How are healthcare services Ireland?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Ireland, they replied:

"In Ireland, healthcare services are provided by both private and public institutions. The public healthcare system is comprised by the Health Service Executive, or HSE, and is open to both Irish citizens and foreign residents. Services provided through this system include general and specialty care, basic medical supplies, mental health services, and inpatient and outpatient treatment. Generally, the quality of public healthcare is ranked highly globally and is considered to be comprehensive. Additionally, expats who are residing in Ireland on particular visas and permits are eligible for the public healthcare system. In order to use the system, expats must obtain a valid Public Services Card from Irish Social Service Office. This card is obtained by showing proof of insurance, nationality and residence. After receiving the Public Services Card, expats will gain access to the primary care and secondary care services," mentioned one expat in Ireland.

"Private health insurance is absolutely essential. The private hospitals are OK provided it is not an emergency. There is no 24 hour A and E. If it were available I would insure also for a fly you back to Germany for accidents and emergencies. I was left on a trolley for 30 hours falling a fall with a broken collar bone and ribs. I am over 70 with a heart condition. Some third world countries have better medical services than Ireland," commented one expat who moved to Galway, Ireland.

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What are medical services in Ireland like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Ireland, they replied:

"My doctor recently made a house call to visit me when I was under the weather and unable to visit his office. Very happy with the costs and services," commented one expat living in Ballyconnell, Ireland.

"Every visit to GP or consultant costs money, unless you earn very little money and have a medical card. Waiting times are insane, sometimes even when you are privately insured," wrote one expat.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Ireland?

"Healthcare in Ireland can be costly. Public health service is funded by taxes, but services are often in high demand, which can lead to long wait times. Private health insurance can be relatively expensive, with premiums varying according to the level of coverage chosen and the age and medical condition of the policy holder. The Irish government offers subsidies on some health insurance premiums and operates the free GP visit scheme which covers certain treatments and offers free GP visits to those over 70 and under 6," remarked one expat living in Ireland.

"Health care In the ROI is free for the most part. Private health insurance is available. The Irish view USA medical charges as outrageous," said one expat living in Ireland.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Ireland

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What are emergency services like in Ireland?

When we asked about emergency services, members in Ireland wrote:

"In Ireland, emergency services are available 24 hours a day and provide a swift response when called. To call an ambulance, it's best to dial 112 or 999. When calling, be sure to give your name, location and a description of the incident. The operator will then dispatch the necessary services and provide further instructions if necessary," commented one expat living in Ireland.

"The nearest hospital is the University College Hospital Galway. This is a dirty, old building with very few doctors many of whom barely speak English. The Galway Clinic (private) is OK but also overburdened. The Bon Secour (private) is also OK," wrote one expat.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Will I need to travel to see a specialist?

"Ireland has a wide selection of medical specialists across its cities and counties, with some of the best known concentration of specialists being located in Dublin, Galway and Cork. Dublin has a very diverse range of medical specialists in its city centre, as well as in the surrounding northern and southern counties of Kildare and Wicklow. Galway is widely renowned for its medical specialist practice, holding some of the largest general and specialty hospitals in the country. Cork also has many excellent medical specialists, with a few notable hospitals located throughout the city. Aside from these well known cities, many of Ireland’s smaller towns and counties are home to specialist medical clinics and consulting rooms, providing quality medical care to patients," commented one expat living in Ireland.

"I do return to my home country for medical care. The quality of doctors in Germany is far higher and they have time to speak to you. Hospitals are properly equipped and clean. No waiting. Even privately you have to wait long periods to see a specialist in Ireland. Finally medical services in Germany are much cheaper," wrote one expat.

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Are common prescription medications available in Ireland?

"Yes, common prescription medications are available in Ireland. Pharmacists in Ireland dispense medications and are expected to provide advice and information when requested. Prescriptions from a qualified doctor are needed to obtain the medications. A wide range of over-the-counter medications is also available; however, it is recommended to speak with the pharmacist before purchasing any medication," wrote one expat.

"Yes most but not all medicines are available. Even with a medical card you must pay. Prescriptions are needed for almost everything as pharmacists here do not appear to have the same capabilities as in France or Germany. My hayfever medicine is sent from Germany as unavailable here," commented one expat who moved to Galway.

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Do you have anything more to add about local medical facilities in Ireland?

"Ireland has a modern, highly regarded healthcare system that provides quality medical care to all its citizens. Ireland has a network of excellent hospitals and healthcare providers providing advanced treatments, high quality care and patient-centred care for all. Ireland has a long-standing tradition of training high quality medical professionals and many of its universities offer world-class medical degrees. The nation also has a history of making investments in medical research, which has enabled the development of cutting-edge treatments and technologies. In addition, Ireland has access to a range of primary care services, such as general practitioners, dentists, and pharmacies, ensuring that all citizens receive the highest level of medical care," wrote an expat living in Ireland.

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As a foreigner living in Ireland, will I have access to public healthcare? What is it like?

"Yes, as a foreigner living in Ireland, you will have access to public healthcare. Most medical services in Ireland, including hospitals and GP services, are funded by the government and are available to all residents of the Irish health system, regardless of their nationality. The quality of care provided by the public healthcare system in Ireland is generally very good, with timely access to excellent care and resources," said an expat in Ireland.

"Yes I qualify because I am a German pensioner and the German government dock my pension to pay the Irish government for my medical card. It covers most things but only with enormously long waiting lists. The public hospitals are dirty, OVERCROWDED and without sufficient doctors," commented one expat living in Galway, Ireland.

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What have your experiences during the pandemic with the local healthcare system been like?

We asked expats in Ireland if they have access to public healthcare in Ireland. And, if they do have access, what is it like. They wrote...

"During the epidemic, medical management was mediocre and there were too few doctors," remarked one expat living in Letterkenny.

"I think they are doing ok - not worse or better than most other Northern/Western European countries," said one expat living in Dublin.

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What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Ireland?

We asked expat moms who gave birth in Ireland about their experiences and advice they have for other moms to be. They said:

"Ask loads of questions and don't be satisfied until you have all the answers you need. Switch GPs if yours doesn't see eye to eye. Stay relaxed and in a calm state of mind and you will be grand," said one expat in Dundalk.

"Move to another country. I hear the Scandinavian countries as well as Australasia are good for birthcare," wrote a person living in Dublin.

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Are healthcare services good in Ireland?

We asked people if they have access to good medical care in Ireland. They wrote:

"Almost every town or village has a family doctor (GP), readily available, some even making house calls after hours. Once the GP, or vision doctor or dental doctor make a referral to a specialist under the Irish system (most often free) one waits four months for an appointment and forward going procedures. If an emergency, local hospitals provide immediate care. My husband had full hernia surgery under general anesthesia and the cost, out of pocket to us was €1 (yes, a little over a dollar US). The bill amount Ireland covered was only about €1500 compared to multiple thousands of dollars in the US. That included pre and post surgical care and follow up," said one expat in Tobercurry.

"We arrived and immediately found a local GP tp handle everyday needs. An annual check up is €50 and a referral to a specialist has been at zero cost to us. Local hospital is 30-40 minutes from home by lovely bus or car. We purchased a full insurance policy, just in case, for €160 a month," remarked one in Tobercurry.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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