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Healthcare in Ireland and insurance planning for immigrants

If you’re thinking about making the Emerald Isle your home, fáilte! There is plenty to get excited about when it comes to living in Ireland, but before you move, it’s important to ensure you and your family have adequate health insurance.

Some of the challenges that immigrants face when it comes to healthcare services include language barriers; difficulties in arranging care without medical insurance coverage; lack of familiarity with the healthcare system; cultural differences; divergent understanding of illness and treatment; negative attitudes among staff; and lack of access to medical histories.

In this article, we look at the healthcare and medical services available in Ireland and speak to an insurance expert to understand more about insurance planning prior to moving abroad, the types of insurance emigrants should keep or forgo when moving overseas, and the insurance policies that can be used for tax planning.

Ireland’s healthcare and medical services

Ireland offers high quality and advanced healthcare and medical services. For families and individuals immigrating to Ireland, there are various routes to accessing healthcare:

GP – Access to a doctor, or general practitioner – GP for short – is essential for general health issues and non-emergency illnesses. A list of local GPs can be found on the website of the Health Service Executive (HSE), and registration with a practice can be done by providing name, address and PPS number. Unless it’s an emergency, GPs are the gateway to the Irish hospital system. If you need any hospital service, your GP will usually refer you to the place or person you require. For example, if an X-ray, blood test, scan or other procedure is necessary, your GP will tell you where you should go. He or she will also provide you with a letter of referral. Similarly, your GP will refer you to a consultant if you need special expertise.

A&E – The Accident and Emergency department of a hospital, A&E for short, is where you go if you’ve had an accident or feel extremely unwell. Treatment is on a needs basis, so if the condition is not urgent the wait time may be extensive. There is a charge of €100 to attend without a GP referral.

Private Healthcare – If you are a private healthcare patient covered by health insurance, you may be eligible for a range of benefits. These include faster access to diagnostic investigations and subsequent treatments through your choice of consultant, and access to both public and private hospitals depending on your insurance plan (including high-tech hospitals). Treatment and services for private patients are provided by a wide network of private hospitals and clinics, as well as public hospitals.

Private hospitals are located across Ireland and offer some of the most technologically advanced healthcare treatment options. The best include:

The Hermitage Medical Clinic: Hermitage Clinic, part of Blackrock Health, is a 112-bed private hospital in Lucan, West Dublin. The specialised medical teams provide medical, surgical and advanced radiotherapy care to patients and are supported by the very latest medical technology. 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.

Blackrock Clinic: Blackrock Clinic, part of Blackrock Health, is Ireland’s leading high-tech hospital, focused on developing and delivering the newest and most technologically advanced healthcare.

Since it opened in the mid-1980s, the Blackrock Clinic has been recognised by the Joint Commission International (JCI), which accredits only hospitals that raise safety and quality of care standards to the highest levels, and was one of the first hospitals in Ireland to attain this international recognition.

Beacon Hospital: Beacon Hospital is one of the most technologically advanced private hospitals in all of Europe. It has Ireland’s most advanced diagnostic equipment and an Emergency Department located in Dublin.

With over 300 Consultants and 1,700 medical professionals, Beacon Hospital operates as a full-service acute hospital. Treatment and services include orthopaedic surgery, heart surgery, neurosurgery, general surgery, comprehensive cancer care (medical oncology and radiation oncology), and general and emergency medical services.

Beacon Hospital has satellite locations in Dublin 8, Wexford, Mullingar and Drogheda.

Bon Secours Private Hospital: Established in 1951, Bon Secours Hospital is an independent acute care private hospital located in Glasnevin in North Dublin. The Bon Secours Hospital Dublin is part of the Bon Secours Health System, Ireland’s largest independent healthcare provider incorporating a network of four modern acute hospitals in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Tralee. The Health System also includes a Consultation Centre in Limerick and a Care Village in Cork.

St. Vincent’s Private hospital: One of the world’s leading hospitals providing front-line, acute, chronic and emergency care across over 50 different medical specialties, St. Vincent’s is the only integrated multi-hospital campus in Ireland. Its Emergency Department (ED) is the major referral centre for the region for patients with strokes and major trauma.

St. Vincent’s Private Hospital is part of the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG), the group also includes St. Vincent’s University Hospital and St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Insurance planning

Ireland’s public healthcare system is highly regarded. It ranked 11th for the best healthcare in the world in a 2018 study published by The Lancet, placing 12 positions above the UK. It also boasts more hospital beds per person than the UK, according to the OECD.

However, Ireland’s public healthcare is not always free. And having health insurance to pay your medical and hospital expenses can provide peace of mind for you and your family. With health insurance, you can expect:

  • more options to choose top class private hospitals in Ireland
  • quicker access to necessary medical care
  • treatment in hospitals as a private patient

The average annual cost of Irish health insurance paid by individual policyholders as of December 2021 was €1,470 for adults. While insurance is an additional expense, not having it could prove far more costly.

Families planning to relocate overseas may wonder if the insurance plans they have purchased in their home countries are still effective once they move, and whether life insurance can be an effective tax planning tool.

We spoke to Gigi Tsoi, District Director of Wealth Management and Protection, about the things to take into account regarding healthcare and insurance when moving abroad.

Medical and healthcare insurance is just one of five main categories of insurance to review when moving abroad. The others include life insurance, critical illness insurance, accident insurance or long-term disability coverage, and Investment-Linked Assurance Schemes (ILAS).

Gigi suggests that families first review their current medical insurance to understand any existing coverage and its suitability for the country they are moving to. If coverage is limited, she recommends families invest in a high-quality international health insurance plan to cover their medical needs. Such an insurance plan can be a lifeline in case something happens when they are abroad and they need to seek global medical treatment.

She also highlights how Inheritance Tax (IHT) can be offset with life insurance, or that people can avoid IHT being charged by putting the assets in trust.


For families moving overseas, residing in a country with a good healthcare system and access to medical care is important. The healthcare and medical system in Ireland is modern, safe and among the best in the world, making Ireland a great place to live, study, work and retire. When families have adequate insurance coverage, they will have peace of mind that they and their loved ones will be protected financially and enjoy a good quality of life in Ireland.

Premium nursing home care in Ireland – why you should invest in Bartra’s healthcare and nursing homes

Nursing care is an in-demand sector worldwide. Driven by a rising ageing population, the global nursing care market is expected to grow to a value of more than $1,100 billion at an annual rate of 8.6% to 2022 according to a recent report from The Business Research Company.

Unlike assisted-living facilities, nursing homes are strictly regulated by the government in many countries and are built and managed by sophisticated institutions to a high standard to ensure the care and treatment of elderly people who may have physical health concerns and/or mental disabilities.

It is common to see that those living in nursing homes generally have more disability than people living at home. Over half of nursing home residents need help with three or more activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing and bathing. Those who are able to walk may still need assistance or supervision, and some may have difficulty hearing or seeing.

Nursing homes have changed dramatically over the past few decades. They increasingly offer medical services similar to those offered in hospitals after surgery, illness or sudden medical problems. The elderly need a higher level of care, particularly as hospital stays are shorter than they used to be. However, medical services vary a lot among nursing homes.

At Bartra, we take the issue of ageing seriously. We believe in “growing old with dignity”. Bartra Healthcare is on course to become the largest provider of quality healthcare in Ireland. Led by seasoned professional Declan Carlyle, Bartra’s Healthcare division delivers a nursing home portfolio with superior elderly care facilities designed to meet the Irish government’s highest standards as imposed by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA). In Bartra’s nursing home operations, our highly skilled and experienced care team is inculcating a culture of quality caregiving in all our facilities, ensuring a standard of care that recognises our residents’ needs for independence, choice dignity and respect, compassion and advocacy.

Watch our interview with Declan Carlyle, CEO of Bartra Healthcare’s CEO, and former CFO of Beaumont Hospital, to find out what makes our service exceptional.

We are proud that Bartra Healthcare is comprised of a group of premium quality nursing homes, each of which provides individualised care in a safe, friendly and comfortable environment where all of the needs of our residents are met. As Declan says, “Every single aspect of these homes has been designed with meticulous attention to detail.” Aside from top-class elderly care facilities, high quality beds and bed linen and hand-picked teams of professional and clinical staff, we also strive to bring tasty, wholesome food to residents that is well presented and appetising to the eye.

Eating and drinking are fundamental needs and consequently essential parts of nursing and nursing care. Encouraging older people in nursing homes to engage in mealtime activities can increase engagement in daily life and encourage more optimal health among older people. It’s more than simply a meal. Our team of highly skilled chefs has a deep understanding of diet, cooks with heart, and brings empathy and imagination to the table.

Learn more about our food philosophy in our interview with Executive Chef Andrew Dunne.

Strong track record of success

Bartra’s nursing homes are Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) qualified, with state-backed income, and meet the highest HIQA standards. Investors into our nursing home projects deploy €1 million for 5 years and receive 100% repayment upon maturity and a 20% return (4% per annum). Bartra has a strong pipeline of 825 nursing home beds, valued at €180 million.

Following the successful opening of our Northwood and Loughshinny nursing homes, Bartra’s third nursing home project, Beaumont Lodge was completed in October 2020, two months ahead of schedule and within budget despite the global pandemic and the challenges it presented. Beaumont Lodge is one of the Ireland’s largest nursing homes, featuring 221 single occupancy, ensuite bedrooms offering privacy for every elderly resident.

The building contains a large open plan area of 10,000 square meters, equivalent to the size of a football field, with three-storey overhanging areas supported on concrete beams and columns. Large ‘Winter Garden’ balconies were constructed on each floor to provide outdoor space. The development also offers 83 car parking spaces along with motorcycle and bicycle bays. Bartra teams provided civil, structural and traffic engineering services as well as design.

Beaumont Lodge

Beaumont Lodge, completed exterior and interior

Regarding nursing facilities, Beaumont will fully comply with the highest HIQA standards, accommodating some of the most advanced equipment to ensure high-tech and intelligent nursing services. Each room offers a separate shower room which ensures a private space. All beds can be easily raised and lowered, and the mattresses in each room are customised in consideration of body pressure distribution. Every room is equipped with an alarm system for daily needs or emergency assistance.

To find out how the development of Beaumont Lodge progressed from its beginnings in 2018, watch our construction video.

Beaumont is located in Dublin 5, close to Dublin Airport and within easy reach of Ireland’s most important traffic artery and busiest ring road, the M50. From this C-shaped highway, almost anywhere in Dublin can be accessed easily. Another important highway, the M1, which connects Dublin and Northern Ireland, is also nearby. The extensive transportation network around Beaumont is convenient for the elderly who reside there.

How does Bartra’s nursing home portfolio work?

With an ageing population, nursing homes are in high demand yet remain undersupplied in Ireland. The number of over 65-year-olds is expected to reach 16% of the total population, accounting for 860,600 people by 2026. This means the country will need 7,500 new nursing home beds in the system by then. However, little is expected to be built in the next few years, with just 1,144 beds due to be delivered.

To meet the required volume of units, reduce housing waiting lists and increase the delivery of much-needed infrastructure, collaboration between the public and private sectors is necessary. And since nursing homes qualify as essential infrastructure, institutional investors with long-term investment horizons are contributing to elderly care projects as part of their investment portfolios.

For more on the benefits of investing in nursing hones and healthcare (as well as social housing), read our article on Impact Investing with Bartra.

It is worth noting that, in Ireland, there is a financial support scheme available from the government for the cost of nursing home care. This scheme is called the Nursing Home Support Scheme, but It is better known as “The Fair Deal”. Under the Fair Deal Scheme, each bed in a nursing home receives a weekly subsidy from the government (the subsidy standard is determined by the National Treatment Purchase Fund). As such, investing in nursing home projects is safe and unaffected by market movements due to its state-backed income stream, many institutional investors with a long-term investment horizon have contributed to elderly care as part of their investment portfolios.

Investments in and acquisitions of nursing home projects in Ireland to date include:

Care Choice Group, Munster (5 Nursing Homes) and Dublin (1 Nursing Home): Infra Via acquired Care Choice for €70m (comprising 503 beds, the majority of which are located in Munster, with four sites located in the Greater Dublin Area).

The Beechfield Group, Dublin (3 Nursing Homes): German-based IMMAC Group entered the Irish nursing home sector with the €33m acquisition of the Beechfield Care Group, incorporating Beechfield Manor Nursing Home, Glengara Park Nursing Home and Mount Hybla Nursing Home as well as the Beechfield Private Homecare service.

TCL Group (Ireland) (4 Nursing Homes and 1 site): TLC is a provider of retirement care services based in Dublin, Ireland. The company specialises in luxury nursing homes for elderly people. It has been reported that the sale price of TLC Nursing Homes portfolio would exceed €150m for 4 Nursing Homes, comprising 674 beds (Santry, Cara Care, Maynooth, Citywest and Carton nursing homes) and a site in Ireland.

Bartra is a leading nursing homes developer in the healthcare sector in Ireland. We source, build and manage our projects from start to finish. The chart below explains our project development and exit process.

Nursing Home Process

At Bartra, we build communities for life where everyone can contribute. We create environments and services in which people are valued, included and respected. And we put great emphasis on facilitating and encouraging residents to continue to pursue their hobbies and interests while living in our nursing homes.