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International Healthcare in Ireland



Healthcare in Ireland

The lawmakers in Republic of Ireland approved the Health Act in 2004 in parliament. The act itself gave birth to a new agency (called the health service executive) whose task is to monitor the public healthcare and personal social service provisions in the country. This new health service executive was put to work from the 2005 and it has been put under constant scrutiny since then. The Ireland’s healthcare industry is essentially made up of two players and they are the government funded public health sector and the profit-driven private sector. In 2005, it was reported that more than 8% of Ireland’s gross domestic product (or GDP) was invested on its healthcare industry. The major portion of this expenditure came from the Irish government as investment into its public healthcare programs.

Ireland recent Healthcare transformation

 After the 2004 reform, new legislation stipulated that all local residents (including visitors from EU who hold European Health Insurance Cards) are guaranteed of free medical maintenance and treatments at selective (or voluntary) hospitals. If a walk-in patient has income proof that shows his or her income is below the country’s median income level, outpatient treatment dispensed would be free of charge to the concerned patient, regardless of the choice of hospital. Otherwise, a hefty discount would apply to the required treatment.     

 Beneficiaries of any of the country’s welfare program, who can prove that his or her earning is lower than the national average income level, or could be suffering from certain pre-existing conditions are issued medical cards. Medical cards are the necessary vehicles for this group of people to access free GP consultation, dental services, hospital care, aural and optical services, prescription drugs as well as medical appliances. Statistic puts it that approximately 1/3 of the total population are holders of these medical cards, and thus enjoy free healthcare that comes along. In recent years, many politicians have tried to use the medical card as their ticket to office as they claim to be strong advocates of the idea of medical card for all. Even if one’s earning power happens to exceed slightly the pre-established national average, a GP visit card could prove to be just as handy. All holders of GP visit cards can be assured of free GP consultations. For senior citizens who do not enjoy the entitlements attributed to either medical card or GP visit card, a one-time 400 pound cash grant would be awarded instead.

Ireland Public Health system

 Undoubtedly with such beneficial public healthcare system, it is difficult to find trouble with the Irish health authority but the popularity of the system has inadvertently led to a new problem – the long wait time. In recent years, the problem has become more pronounced as some serious procedures were put on hold by hospitals due to either lack of manpower or simply facility shortage. In 2007, the official data released were revealing. Overall, 3 out of 4 patients were able to get admitted on the same day, but only 1 in 10 would have that operation after one month, 4% had to settle for 3 months wait, 1% waited for 6 months and the scary part is that there were 4 patients out of every 100 who were made to wait at least 6 months before they could be operated on.

Ireland Private Healthcare sector

 The private healthcare sector was quick to fill this void. These players injected fresh funds into the industry to secure adequate and competent workforce, and at the same time, also beefed up their facilities. The result is, now these private hospitals are drawing in the patients who have grown frustrated with the queue in public hospitals. Private Health Insurance providers offer a comprehensive solution to benefit from a complete healthcare solution in Ireland.

If you wish to find a suitable Health Insurance in Ireland please contact us.

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