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Charges for hospital services

Information

Everyone, regardless of nationality, who is accepted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) as being ordinarily resident in Ireland is entitled to access in-patient and out-patient services in publicly funded hospitals, that is, HSE hospitals and voluntary hospitals. Certain visitors to Ireland are also entitled to public health services, for example, people covered under EU Regulations.

You may have to pay some hospital charges, unless you have a medical card or belong to certain other groups listed below. There are daily in-patient charges and some long-term stay charges.

If you are not resident in Ireland and you do not belong to any of the groups that are entitled to free services, you have to pay the full economic cost of the bed, whether it is a public bed or a private bed. You also have to pay the consultant.

The HSE has the discretion to reduce or waive the charges in cases of hardship.

Rules

Charges for accident and emergency/casualty and out-patient services

If you use accident and emergency services without being referred there by a GP, there is a charge of €100. There is no charge if you are referred by a GP (bring your referral letter with you) or for certain groups listed below.

The charge applies to the following public facilities:

  • Emergency departments
  • Accident and emergency departments
  • Casualty departments
  • Minor injury units
  • Urgent care centres
  • Local injury units
  • Any other facility providing similar services

The charge of €100 does not apply to the following groups:

  • Medical card holders
  • People who are admitted to hospital as an in-patient as a result of attending the casualty department (you will then be subject to in-patient charges)
  • People receiving treatment for prescribed infectious diseases
  • Children up to 6 weeks of age
  • Children who have certain diseases and disabilities
  • Children referred for treatment from child health clinics and school health examinations
  • People who are entitled to hospital services because of EU Regulations
  • Women receiving maternity services
  • People with Hepatitis C who have a Health Amendment Act Card

The charge applies to the first visit in relation to an illness or accident. If you have to return for further visits to an out-patient clinic in relation to the same illness or accident, you should not have to pay the charge again.

You can be referred by your family doctor to the out-patients department of a public hospital for specialist assessment by a consultant or his or her team or for diagnostic assessments (for example, x-rays, laboratory tests, physiotherapy). If you attend this service as a public patient, you will not have to pay for this service. If you wish to attend a consultant in a private capacity, you must pay their fee.

Public in-patients in public hospitals

If you are a public patient in a public hospital under the care of a consultant for treatment and you remain overnight, you are receiving overnight in-patient services.

If you are admitted to the hospital under the care of a consultant where you do not require the use of a bed overnight and your discharge from hospital is planned, you are receiving day in-patient services.

The statutory charge for overnight and day in-patient services is €75 per day up to a maximum of €750 in any 12 consecutive months. The charge does not apply to the following groups:

  • Medical card holders
  • People receiving treatment for prescribed infectious diseases
  • People who are subject to "long stay" charges
  • Children up to 6 weeks of age, children suffering from prescribed diseases and disabilities and children referred for treatment from child health clinics and school board examinations
  • People who are entitled to hospital services because of EU Regulations
  • Women receiving maternity services

Private in-patients in public hospitals

If you choose to be treated as a private patient of a consultant when you are admitted to a public hospital you are charged for the inpatient services according to the category of the hospital and (for an overnight stay) according to the type of room you are in.

Rates from January 2014 are:

Hospital Category Single-occupancy room overnight Multiple-occupancy room overnight Day-case
Fifth schedule hospitals €1,000 €813 €407
Sixth schedule hospitals €800 €659 €329

The hospitals in each category are listed in the Health (Amendment) Act 2013 with four changes subsequently made by Statutory Instrument No.75 of 2014 (pdf).

The Act provides that public hospitals must levy the private in-patient charge on all in-patients who opt to be treated privately by their consultant.

If you are a private patient, you must pay for the services of the consultant who is treating you. You must also pay for the services of any other consultant who is involved in caring for you (for example, the radiation oncologist or anaesthetist).

Mental health services

You have the same entitlement to public health services for mental illness as for any other illness. You must pay for maintenance and treatment in private psychiatric hospitals. Health insurance companies sometimes treat psychiatric hospital costs differently from general hospital costs. The same rules apply to long-term institutional care for psychiatric patients as to long-term institutional care for other patients.

Mental health in-patient and out-patient services are provided free of charge to children aged under 16 years who are suffering from mental illness.

Long-stay patients

The HSE may impose hospital charges on long-stay or extended care patients, separately from the normal in-patient charges. If you have been an in-patient for more than 30 days within the previous 12 months, you will be liable for these charges. This applies to everyone, including medical card holders.

The Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) Regulations 2005 provide for different charging arrangements, depending on the level of nursing care being provided.

The maximum charge for anyone in public long-stay care is €175 per week. In addition, those in public long-stay care are divided into two groups:

  • Class 1: those receiving in-patient services in premises where nursing care is provided on a 24 hour basis. Maximum weekly charge for care will be the lesser of €175.00, or their weekly income less a sum of between €33.00 and €37.99.*
  • Class 2: those receiving in-patient services in premises where nursing care not provided on a 24 hour basis. Maximum weekly charge will be the lesser of €130.00, or the person's weekly income less a sum of between €64.00 and €68.99.*

If you are in hospital for more than 30 days and a doctor certifies that you do not need medically acute care and treatment you may be charged as if you were receiving long-term residential care services.

* There is further information on these charges and the amounts that patients can retain for their own use in the HSE's Long Stay Charges National Guidelines July 2011 (pdf).

Page updated: 25 February 2014

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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.