Published November 16, 2022 by Vinko Ninčević
Healthcare in Ireland
Healthcare in Ireland

“What about healthcare in Ireland?” – is one of the most frequently asked questions we get in job interviews.

If you are moving to Ireland from abroad and are generally aware that some countries have less convenient (let’s put it that way) medical practices, you aren’t sure what to expect in Ireland. Worry not, as always, Labyrinth Recruitment is there for you to sum it up!


If you are a national of the European Economic Area (EEA), the UK, or Switzerland, or if you are normally resident in Ireland, you are entitled to receive the same level of health care as Irish citizens. Depending on
your income, you may be eligible for a medical card, which entitles you to the full range of medical services at no cost.

If you are not from an EEA member state or Switzerland, you will be entitled to certain services free of charge and you will have to pay for the remainder.

If you are coming to live, work, study or retire in Ireland you can find out more information on eligibility for public health services. If you are coming to Ireland on holiday or on a short stay (for example, on business), you can read more information on health services for visitors to Ireland.

GPs and private patients

In Ireland, family doctors are called GPs. A GP is usually the first doctor that people see about non-emergency illnesses and health issues. Some GPs provide services only to private patients. You usually have to pay to see a GP as a private patient and fees can vary.

GPs provide a broad service on all health issues and may refer you to see a specialist or hospital consultant if your condition needs further investigation. You cannot see a consultant for the first time without a referral from a GP.

As well as health consultations, GPs also provide prescriptions for medicine and offer immunisation and vaccination services. GPs may also provide maternity care and family planning services. The range of services on offer can vary between GPs.

You can find out which GPs are available in your local area using the HSE’s Health Atlas.

GPs are usually part of the private healthcare system and so you will need to pay charges when you see one. There are no set fees or charges for GP services – you can expect to pay from around 45€ up to 65€ (in some urban areas). Contact your GP before your first visit to find out about the charges.

GPs may provide certain services to private patients free of charge. For example, they might provide maternity and infant care services, and immunisation and vaccination services, if they have agreements with the HSE.

Medical card

If you have a medical card issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE), you can get certain health services free of charge. Anyone who is ‘ordinarily resident’ in Ireland can apply for a medical card. This means that you are living in Ireland and intend to live here for at least one year.

To qualify for a medical card, your weekly income must be below a certain figure for your family size. Cash income, savings, investments, and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test.

What services are normally covered?

● Free GP (family doctor) services, including out-of-hours services
● Prescribed drugs and medicines – some prescription charges apply
● In-patient public hospital services, out-patient services, and medical appliances
● Dental, optical and aural services
● Maternity and infant care services
● Some personal and social care services, for example, public health nursing, social work services, and other community care services
● Short-term counselling for mild to moderate psychological difficulties, using the Counselling in Primary Care Service
● A maternity cash grant of €10.16 on the birth of each child (apply to your Local Health Office)

Selecting a doctor

If you apply online, the doctor you select will be contacted to accept you as a medical card patient.

If you apply using the printed application form, you can call the GP that you have chosen from the list of participating doctors. Usually, the GP you select must be within 7 miles of where you live. If the GP agrees to accept you as a patient for medical card GP services, you can send them the form to sign. If you are refused by 3 GPs, state this on your application, including details of the doctors, and the HSE will assign a doctor to you.

Private health insurance

In addition to the public health system, people in Ireland can avail of a range of private health care services. You must pay the full costs of treatment if you opt for private health care.

Health insurance is used to pay for private care in hospitals or from health professionals in hospitals or in their practices. The arrangements vary from one company to another, but most companies have agreements with hospitals to pay the hospital directly. In general, for outpatient costs, you pay the health professional and then claim back from the health insurance company.

The Health Insurance Tax Credit reduces the amount of the health insurance premium that you pay.

There are a number of private health insurance companies in Ireland. As long as you are from the EEA or Switzerland or normally resident in Ireland, you are entitled to the same benefits from your private health insurance with any of those companies as any other Irish citizen.

Health insurance and price comparison

If you are looking to find more details about private and public health care in Ireland, you can read more on the links below.


Health care for new residents
GPs and private patients
Medical cards
Private health insurance
Health services for visitors to Ireland

Additional links:

All Health Services
Hospital Charges
COVID-19 and public health

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