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Your Guide to Health Insurance for Foreigners in Ireland 2023

Health Insurance Ireland

Living in Ireland as a foreigner has its charms, from the vibrant culture to the hospitality of the Irish people. However, when it comes to health, there are nuances to consider. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the Irish healthcare system and health insurance options for foreigners who choose to make the Emerald Isle their home.

The Irish Public Health System

Despite some expat complaints about the climate and cost of living, Ireland offers a high-quality healthcare system, surpassing many countries, including the United States. Around 40% of the population receives free medical care, known as Category 1 or the “Irish Medical Card”. A further 9% qualify for the Doctor Visit Card (GP), which covers doctor visits but not free tests and prescriptions. However, the majority of the population, classified as “Category 2”, pays for each medical appointment, despite government subsidized prices. These costs can accumulate over time.

Geographic Challenges and Cost of Living

Despite the high quality of healthcare services, the concentration of hospitals and specialists in cities such as Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork presents a challenge for those living in villages. Although housing costs are lower, the limited availability of doctors can result in long trips for specialized appointments and exams.

Pros and Cons of the Irish Healthcare System


  • Accessibility: The local healthcare system is accessible, providing high-quality care.
  • Excellent Care: Health services offer a high standard of medical care for the population.


  • Waiting Lists: Patients requiring non-urgent care often face long waiting lists for specialist appointments.
  • Challenges in Rural Areas: Residents of rural areas may face additional challenges, requiring travel to hospitals in cities to receive treatment.

Private Health Insurance in Ireland: Advantages and Considerations:

  • Reducing Waiting Times: Private health insurance can significantly reduce waiting times for appointments and treatments.
  • Comfortable and Private Facilities: Offers the advantage of receiving treatment in more comfortable and private facilities.

Cost Consideration: When opting for private health insurance, it is crucial to consider the options available and evaluate the associated costs to make an informed decision.

CHow Foreigners Can Get Irish Health Insurance

Limited Competition in the Irish Market:

With just four companies offering private health insurance in Ireland, competition is limited, which could affect the options available to consumers.

Choose a Global Plan:

Choosing a global plan before moving offers more flexibility and options, allowing expats to have comprehensive cover even outside Irish borders.

International Coverage:

One of the main benefits of a global plan is international coverage, guaranteeing medical assistance anywhere in the world, providing peace of mind during travel or temporary stays in other countries.

Recommended Plans for Expatriates:

Cigna Global Medical Plan and GeoBlue Xplorer are highly recommended for expats. These plans offer comprehensive benefits and reliable services, meeting the specific needs of those living far from their home country.

Flexibility in Choosing Services:

Global plans generally offer a diverse range of services, allowing policyholders to choose according to their individual needs, from medical consultations to specialized treatments.

Health Trust Assistance:

Opting for a global plan provides a reliable healthcare network, ensuring expats receive quality care regardless of their location.

Expert Customer Service:

Many global plans are known for their expert customer service, making communication and problem resolution easier, even in an international context.

Assessment of Costs and Benefits:

When choosing a comprehensive plan, it is important to carry out a careful assessment of the associated costs and benefits offered. This helps in making informed decisions as per individual needs and available budget.

Benefits of a Global Health Insurance Plan

With just four companies offering private health insurance in Ireland, competition is limited. Choosing a global plan before moving offers more flexibility and options, as well as international coverage. Plans like Cigna Global Medical Plan and GeoBlue Xplorer are recommended for expats, providing comprehensive benefits and reliable services.

Finding a Doctor in Ireland

Even while waiting for health insurance approval or without all the necessary documents, it is possible to consult a doctor in Ireland, for a fee. The search for a doctor is personal and location-based. Recommendations from friends, colleagues or even local pharmacies can guide your choice.

Some doctors may turn away new patients, especially if they are at capacity. If three doctors refuse to accept you as a patient, the Health Service Executive (HSE) will assign you a doctor.

Medical Consultations: Taking Care of Your Health Proactively

Medical appointments in Ireland are a fundamental part of keeping your health up to date. With costs ranging between 40 and 70 Euros, scheduling an appointment with a General Practitioner (GP) is the first step to monitoring your general health. These professionals play a crucial role in the Irish healthcare system, offering preventative care, diagnosis and referrals to specialists when necessary.

The relationship between patients and GPs in Ireland is centered on open communication. When scheduling an appointment, patients have the opportunity to discuss health concerns, medical history and receive personalized advice. These appointments are an opportunity to address health concerns before they become more serious problems, promoting a proactive approach to wellness.

Sexual Health in Ireland: Important Considerations

When it comes to sexual health, Ireland maintains some specific guidelines. Pharmacists in the country are not allowed to provide contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription. This means that when carefully planning your sexual health, it is essential to book an appointment with a GP.

During your consultation, you can discuss contraceptive options, ask questions about available methods, and receive personalized guidance based on your individual health. Additionally, GPs in Ireland can provide information about sexual health testing and preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Conscious Prescription: Limitations in the Dispensing of Contraceptives

It is important to be aware that due to local regulations, GPs in Ireland can prescribe contraceptives for a maximum period of six months. This limitation highlights the importance of maintaining a regular schedule of medical appointments, ensuring that you always have access to the contraceptives you need to take care of your sexual health.

Awareness of these regulations allows patients to plan their appointments strategically, avoiding interruptions in access to their chosen contraceptive methods. The emphasis on conscious prescribing aims to ensure that patients receive regular medical monitoring, adapting their treatment plans as necessary.

Holistic Approach to Sexual Health: Beyond Prescription

In addition to prescribing contraceptives, GP consultations in Ireland also provide an opportunity to discuss wider issues relating to sexual health. This may include family planning counseling, reproductive health guidance, and open discussions about any specific concerns patients may have.

The holistic approach to sexual health during medical consultations contributes to creating an environment where patients feel comfortable addressing any issue related to their sexual and reproductive life. This relationship of trust between patients and healthcare professionals is essential to guarantee comprehensive and personalized care.


Living in Ireland as a foreigner offers unique experiences, but ensuring good health is essential. Understanding the healthcare system, exploring insurance options, and finding a doctor are crucial steps. Despite the challenges, Ireland continues to attract expats with its rich culture and quality of life. Welcome to your journey on the Emerald Isle.

Author: Thiago

I moved to Ireland 2012. I work as a business administrator and travel a lot to Europe with my work. I enjoy writing and athletics during my vacation and try to visit friends and family every year in Brazil.
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