Relocating to Ireland Series – Part 3 – Healthcare in Republic of Ireland

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Ireland's healthcare system is delivered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and is funded by general taxes and is available to all, but it is not free of charge to all Irish citizens and/or residents. Eligibility to free health care is based on residency and means rather than social insurance contributions or tax payments. Many residents in Ireland choose to take out private health insurance.

Eligibility Anybody who is classed as an Ordinary Resident by the HSE is entitled to full eligibility health care (Category 1: medical card holders) or limited eligibility (Category 2). An Ordinary Resident is someone living in Ireland, or intending to remain for at least one year. To meet the criteria to qualify as an Ordinary Resident and become eligible for publicly funded health care, the following information must be provided: - Proof of purchase or rental of property and evidence that this is the principal residence - Evidence of transfer of funds, bank accounts, pensions and so on - A residence permit or visa and/or a work permit or visa - The applicant may have to sign a sworn statement (affidavit) Although a non-EU national may establish eligibility for health services as an Ordinary Resident, their dependents are not automatically entitled to the same cover. People who have not been resident in Ireland for at least one year must satisfy the HSE that it is their intention to remain for a minimum of one year in order to be eligible for health services. Dependents of such individuals must also contact the HSE to confirm their eligibility.

Category 1 - People with Medical Cards Over 30% of people in Ireland have medical cards. Medical Cards allow people to get a wide range of health services and medicines free of charge. You can read more about Medical Cards and how to apply for one here.

Category 2 - People without Medical Cards People without medical cards can still access a wide range of community and hospital health services, either free of charge or at reduced cost. The vast majority of new residents to Ireland will be in Category 2

Finding a Doctor Registering with a Doctor You may register with any GP offering services to private patients. Some GPs only offer services to private patients, while others may deal with both private and medical card/GP card patients.

Category 2 Health Care All Irish residents who do not qualify for Category 1 care (medical card) or for a GP visit card fall into Category 2 qualification for health care. Under this entitlement, GP visits, medicines and prescriptions, routine dental, optical or aural treatment must be paid for. Prescribed drugs and prescriptions are subsidised, as are some community care and personal social services. Emergency care is also provided at a cost. Hospital services are free, but charges are levied for in-patient and out-patient care. Maternity and infant care services are also free.

Referrals for Specialist Treatment Specialist treatment is available from public and private hospitals. Out-patient services in public or voluntary hospitals are generally free for those considered to be Ordinary Residents. Out-patient services include accident and emergency services and referrals from the GP. In principle, anyone can refer themselves to out-patient services at a public or voluntary hospital, but a person who is referred by a GP will not incur hospital charges. When referred by a GP, there is no choice of consultants. Private consultant services can be sought by referral but must be paid for. Charges will apply for a private bed in a public hospital. Private Treatments Treatment by specialists in private hospitals must be done by referral from the family doctor. It is not possible to get treatment in private hospitals under the public system. Private medical insurance should provide some or all of the cost of treatment. Treatment costs are set by the hospitals.

Exceptions Some people are entitled to free medical care and drugs based on their medical condition rather than their means or whether or not they have a medical card. For example: People who qualify for the Long Term Illness Scheme are entitled to get free drugs and medication for the condition. Citizens information have more information about the Long Term Illness Scheme. Child health services are available to all children. Citizens information have more information on child health service. Private health insurance is very common and there are a number of organisations which provide this for Irish residents. Having private health insurance means that patients are seen much more quickly by consultants. Health insurance providers usually pay hospital fees directly to the hospital but this may vary according to the company and its procedures. Policies, plans and options differ considerably between companies, and this consequently affects the type of health care policy holders are entitled to. Icon Accounting can offer you private health insurance with the healthcare provider, Aviva Group Health. Aviva have an array of private health care plans so you can choose one that best suits your needs. Aviva Health website has more information on their plans Citizens information have more details about private health insurance.

Emergency Numbers in Ireland In case of an accident or emergency, it is important to know who to contact and what to say. The appropriate number to call depends on whether there is a life threatening injury, fire, or a minor illness. Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastguard Tel: 112 or 999 Irish Tourist Assistance Service Tel: 01 478 5295 Samaritans Tel: 1850 609 090 There are Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in public and private hospitals for serious problems. A&E treats serious injuries or illnesses, such as loss of consciousness, severe pain, chest pain, large cuts and wounds and breathing difficulties. A&E departments are always open and no appointment is needed.

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