Irish Healthcare System
The healthcare system in Ireland is considered to be a comprehensive system with a public health service funded by the government and an expanding private health care service. Individuals who are resident in Ireland for at least one year are entitled to receive health care through the public healthcare system managed by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The public healthcare system is heavily funded by the Irish Government, with the deficit paid through voluntary health care payments and household spending. A large proportion of expenditure goes towards hospitals and ambulatory health care providers, of which curative and rehabilitative care and long-term care receive the largest financial support.
Although the public healthcare system is largely financed by the Irish Government, individuals may be required to pay fees for certain health care services such as attending an accident and emergency department without a referral. To enable people who otherwise cannot afford to pay for healthcare treatment a Medical Card system was introduced. This Card entitles individuals to access a range of health services free of charge. The number of individuals entitled to a Medical Card has increased in recent years irrespective of the age of applicants. A subsequent system in place is the GP Visit Card scheme which allows individuals and families to visit their GP for free. Another system in place, which residents may apply for, is the Drugs Payment Scheme, which caps the amount that an individual or family has to pay per month for approved prescribed medication at 144 euros.
The majority of hospitals in Ireland are operated directly by the HSE, however many are run under a voluntary basis by public funding, as a teaching hospital, in conjunction with a religious ethos or as private hospitals.
Private Health Insurance
Although Ireland’s public health system offers treatment at a significantly reduced rate, the long waitlists turn many Irish to private health insurance. Tax relief is available for premiums paid for health insurance. Some employers may provide health insurance as part of their employment package.
All private health insurance providers are registered with the Health Insurance Authority which is the country’s independent regulator for private health insurance. They also provide information about your rights, and advice about how to select your plan. Health insurance providers that offer inpatient hospital services must provide a minimum level of benefits:
- Day care/in-patient treatment
- Hospital out-patient treatment
- Maternity benefits
- Psychiatric treatment and substance abuse
- The minimum accommodation level is semi-private in a public hospital.
Although your treatment may be privately funded, you may find yourself receiving treatment at a public hospital. That’s because the public hospitals provide a number of private or semi-private beds to boost their income. Consequently, you will be treated as a private patient and charged the full cost for the services provided.
Health insurance companies must provide you with lifetime cover. This means that they cannot refuse to provide you cover. They must also accept anyone who wishes to join regardless of their age, sex or health status, but you will be subject to waiting periods before the cover takes effect. However, if you have already served this time with another insurer you do not need to do so again when transferring to another provider.
Unlike other insurances such as motor or life insurance, your age, sex, health or past record of claims does not affect the price that you will be charged for your health insurance. Therefore, all adults pay equally for the same amount of benefits. However, charges for people aged under 18, people aged 18 to 23 who are in full-time education, retired people who have a special arrangement within their company’s health insurance scheme and people in group health insurance schemes may all be on a lower rate than the normal adult rate.
Top 5 Private Hospitals
The Hermitage Medical Clinic is a 112 bed private hospital in Lucan, West Dublin. Their specialised medical teams provide medical, surgical and advanced radiotherapy care to patients. The Clinic offers an outstanding level of expertise and cutting edge technology. They have the most advanced diagnostic imaging equipment available today, full Cardiological facilities including a Cardiac Catheterisation Suite and Clinical Laboratory services.
Their clinical specialities include surgery, medicine, endoscopy, oncology and interventional diagnostics. They have an 8-bedded ICU/HDU, daycare facility, 2 linear accelerators for radiotherapy and the Theatre Suite has 7 operating rooms.
The most up to date radiology equipment is available including MRI, PET/CT, Nuclear Medicine, 64 slice CT, Mammography, Ultrasound, X-ray and Fluoroscopy. They also have a fully integrated RIS/PACs system.
The Hermitage Medical Clinic has 39 consultant suites occupied by leading practitioners across a wide range of disciplines including Allergy, Breast Surgery, Colorectal Surgery, Dermatology, ENT Surgery, Gastroenterology, General Surgery, Gynaecology, Health Screening, Interventional Cardiology, Maxillofacial, Neurology, Nuclear Medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Oral Surgery, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, Periodontology, Plastic Surgery, Prosthodontology, Psychology, Respiratory, Rheumatology, Urology and Vascular Surgery.
Blackrock Clinic is on of the leading and longest established private hospitals in Ireland. Since it opened in the mid 1980s, the Clinic has consistently built a strong reputation in new high-tech surgical procedures, medical treatments and ground-breaking diagnostics. This reputation means that some of the best international and national consultants work at Blackrock Clinic.
Patient outcomes at Blackrock Clinic are very positive. They were the first hospital to provide treatment in single-patient rooms, thus reducing the risk of hospital acquired infections. Blackrock Clinic has been recognised for over ten years by the Joint Commission International (JCI) which accredits only hospitals that raise safety and quality of care standards to the highest levels.
Located in South Dublin, Beacon Hospital is one of the most advanced private hospitals in Europe. It provides 24 hour, world-class acute care services including orthopaedics, physiotherapy, cardiology, women’s health, urology, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, plastic & reconstructive surgery, ENT, neurology, general surgery, comprehensive cancer care and emergency medicine. The private hospital, which opened in October 2006, has 210 beds, nine operating theatres, and two linear accelerators.
With over 260 Consultants and 1000 highly skilled personnel, the hospital treats over 110,000 patients each year. Their eight bed medical-surgical intensive care unit (ICU) and 6 bed corony care (CCU) unit are designed to provide specialised patient care and recovery. Beacon Hospital prides itself on a comprehensive infection prevention & control programme, highlighting the hospital’s commitment to being one of the highest-quality and safest provider of acute care services in Europe. They also have Ireland’s most advanced diagnostic radiology unit. Beacon for Kids is Ireland’s only dedicated private Paediatric Unit offering a range of outpatient services and surgical procedures. Their Rapid Access Cardiology Clinic (RACC) can offer cardiac assessments without waiting times from some of the countries finest Consultant Cardiologists.
Bon Secours Private Hospital:
The Bon Secours Private Hospital in Dublin is an independent acute care hospital located in Glasnevin in North Dublin providing medical care to patients from Dublin and across Ireland since 1951. The Bon Secours Hospital Dublin is part of the Bon Secours Health System Ireland’s largest healthcare group and includes hospitals in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Tralee, a care village in Cork and an outreach Clinic in Cavan.
The Bon Secours Hospital Dublin as part of the Bon Secours Health System is a non for profit organisation with its mission centred on providing compassionate, world class medical treatment to all those it serves. In 2002, the hospital was the first internationally accredited hospital in Ireland when it achieved JCI Accreditation. The hospital set the standard for all Private Hospitals in Ireland and all hospitals are now required to be JCI accredited. In 2016, the hospital achieved another first when it became the first private hospital to achieve JAG accreditation of its endoscopy unit which is widely recognised internationally as the gold standard for endoscopy units. The hospital is renowned for the quality of medical service provision and combines the latest medical technologies and approaches with traditional values, compassion and personalised medical care.
St. Vincent’s Private hospital:
St. Vincent’s Private Hospital is the single, biggest acute private hospital in Dublin. They offer the highest number of consultants and the widest range of specialist care in Ireland’s only integrated multi-hospital campus. Situated on the same grounds as St. Vincent’s University Hospital, they share resources, expertise and medical facilities with one of the country’s leading academic teaching hospital. This means that they have the capacity to deal with a high volume of patients with a variety of different and often complex medical and surgical requirements. They offer:
- Access to the highest number and broadest range of consultant specialities and consultant led multi-disciplinary teams
- A range of clinical and psychological support services which recognises the importance of the holistic care of the patient
- Access to private medical treatment and beds for patients on a wide range of health insurance plans
- A safe, carefully controlled hospital environment meeting all national and international accreditation standards
St. Vincent’s Private Hospital is part of the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group which also includes St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Elm Park and St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire.