Public v Private services

Do I have to pay for treatment in a public hospital as a public patient?

If you are admitted to a public hospital, a charge of €80 per day applies up to a maximum charge of €800 in any 12 consecutive months. No charge applies to medical card holders.

I have private health insurance. Do I have to use my private health insurance when attending a public hospital?

No. On admission, the hospital may ask you to sign a form (a public hospital waiver form) agreeing that you wish to receive your treatment as a private patient and waiving your right to be treated as a public patient. If you do not sign this form you will be treated as a public patient. If you do sign this form you will be treated as a private patient.

What are the charges applied by public hospitals to private patients?

Private patients are charged €800-€1000 per night for a private room and €659-€813 per night for a semi-private room, depending on the hospital attended, plus consultant fees. If you have private health insurance your insurer may cover some or all of these costs. Please note your insurer may not cover these costs if your health insurance plan does not cover that particular hospital or level of hospital accommodation, or if you are currently serving a waiting period.

What charges will my insurer cover?

Private patients are charged €800-€1000 per night for a private room and €659-€813 per night for a semi-private room, depending on the hospital attended, plus consultant fees. If you have private health insurance your insurer may cover some or all of these costs. Please note your insurer may not cover these costs if your health insurance plan does not cover that particular hospital or level of hospital accommodation, or if you are currently serving a waiting period.

What is the difference between public versus private maternity care?

The public Maternity and Infant Care Scheme provides an agreed programme of care to all expectant mothers who are ordinarily resident in Ireland. This service is provided by a family doctor (GP) of your choice and a hospital obstetrician. You are entitled to this service even if you do not have a medical card or GP Visit Card. The mother is entitled to free inpatient, outpatient and accident and emergency/casualty services in public hospitals in respect of the pregnancy and the birth and is not liable for any hospital charges. You can find more information from the Citizens Information website or the individual maternity hospital websites.

Private health insurance can cover some of the costs associated with private maternity services. Your plan will typically provide you three nights cover in a private room (subject to availability) in a public hospital, although some plans have limited cover of €381 - €400. There may also be a home birth grant in the range of €2,000 - €5,000, depending on which plan you're on. Hospital accommodation costs in a public hospital range from up to €813 per day as a semi-private patient, up to €1,000 per day as a private patient. There are currently no private maternity hospitals in Ireland. As a result, your health insurance plan may, or may not, cover the total cost associated with the hospital accommodation.

Inpatient delivery consultant's fees, incurred at the time of delivery, are always covered by your plan. Higher plans will also cover the anaesthetist, pathology and a paediatric consultation in hospital (covered under Delivery Consultants' Fees on our comparison tool).

Outpatient private consultant fees, which cover the routine visits to your consultant prior to the birth, can be partly covered by the pre and post-natal benefit, or the outpatient maternity consultant fees benefit on your plan, but you should be prepared to pay a shortfall, as these benefits usually provide benefit for around €250 - €600 depending on the plan and outpatient consultant fees may cost several thousand.

Will the hospital check with my insurer to verify I have adequate private health insurance cover?

No, you must contact the insurer yourself if you are unsure of your level of cover.