Hospital charges

What are Hospital charges?

Everyone living in Ireland and certain visitors to Ireland are entitled to a range of health services either free of charge or at reduced cost. If you need to attend a public hospital or stay overnight in hospital as a public patient, you may be liable for Hospital Charges. Medical card holders and certain other groups do not have to pay hospital charges.

There are several types of hospital charges, which include:

  • Out-patient charges
  • Emergency Department charges
  • Daily in-patient charges
  • Long-term stay charges
Out-patient and Emergency Department (A+E) Charges

If you attend the out-patients department or emergency department (A+E) of a public hospital without being referred by your GP or family doctor, you may be charged a standard fee. There is no charge if you are referred by your GP. You must show the referral letter from your GP when you attend the out-patients department or emergency department (A+E).

 Since January 1 2009, this charge is €100.

This charge is not applicable if your are in one of the following groups:

  • Medical card holders
  • People admitted to hospital after attending the emergency department (you will then be subject to in-patient/day service charges)
  • Children, in respect of the following diseases and disabilities: “mental handicap, mental illness, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, haemophilia and cerebral palsy”
  • People who are entitled to hospital services because of EU Regulations

Note that in select cases where people have difficulty paying, the HSE may provide the service free of charge. You should also note that return visits in relation to the same illness or accident will not be subject to any additional charge.

If you are referred by your GP to out-patients for specialist assessment by a Consultant or his or her team for diagnostic assessments such as x-rays, laboratory tests or physiotherapy, there is no charge if you attend as a public patient. If you wish to attend a consultant as a private patient, you will be required to pay the appropriate private fee.

Daily In-patient charges in public hospitals

If you stay overnight as a public patient in a public hospital, you are an in-patient. From January 1 2017, in-patients are charged a standard fee of €80 per night, up to a maximum of €800 in one year. This represents a small fraction of the cost of your care.

If you are admitted to the hospital and under the care of a consultant and not required to stay overnight, you may still have to pay day service charges.

In-patient or day service charges do not apply to the following groups:

  • Medical card holders
  • People receiving treatment for prescribed infectious diseases
  • People who are subject to "long stay" charges
  • People who are entitled to hospital services because of EU Regulations

In cases of excessive hardship the HSE may provide the service free of charge.

Long-stay patients

Health Regulations came into effect on 14 July 2005 (most recently amended in 2011) which required that charges be imposed on long-stay or extended care patients in HSE public care (not including certain exempted persons such as patients in acute hospitals who require acute care and treatment), up to a maximum of €175 per week. The Regulations provide for different charging arrangements, depending on the level of care being provided:

  • Class 1: those receiving in-patient services in premises where nursing care is provided on a 24 hour basis. Maximum weekly charge for the maintenance element of care is €175 (for those whose weekly income is calculated at €208 or higher), reducing progressively in line with assessed weekly income.
  • Class 2: those receiving in-patient services in premises where nursing care is not provided on a 24 hour basis. Maximum weekly charge is €130 (for those whose weekly income is calculated at €194 or higher), reducing progressively in line with the person's assessed weekly income.

Income-related schedules of Class 1 and Class 2 charges are set out in the Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 and are designed to ensure that every Class 1 patient retains a minimum of between €33 and €37.99 of their weekly income for personal use. Every Class 2 patient will retain a minimum of between €64 and €68.99.

In certain circumstances the Health Service Executive has the discretion to alter charges in order to avoid hardship.

Click on this link for more details on long stay charges

Private patients in public or voluntary hospitals

Patients who opt for private in-patient (including day-care) services in public hospitals are liable for a range of private accommodation charges (see table here under) and a charge equivalent to the statutory charge (currently €80 per day up to a maximum of €800 in any 12 month period). There are no exemptions from these charges.

The rates set at the 1st January 2014 are as follows:

Hospital Category Single Occupancy Room Multi Occupancy Room Day Case
Hospital specified in the 5th schedule €1,000 €813 €407
Hospital specified in the 6th schedule €800 €659 €329

The separate statutory charge of €80.00 does not apply for private patients

As a private patient, you must also pay for the consultant’s services which may include the services of radiation oncologists, anaesthetists, etc.

The hospitals operate a direct payments scheme with Vhi Healthcare, Laya Healthcare, Irish Life Healthcare, ESB Medical Provident Fund, St. Paul's Garda Medical Aid Society and Prison Officers' Medical Aid Society (POMAS).

All insurance forms must be completed on or during admission.

We recommend that patients check with their insurance company before admission to the hospital to ensure they are adequately covered for their treatment.

All patients booked privately from the consultants private rooms must be admitted as private patients on the day of admission.

 Road Traffic Accident (RTA) charges imposed under the Health (Amendment) Act, 1986

Patients receiving hospital care following a road traffic accident (RTA) must pay additional charges for their hospital care.

A policy review in connection with the levying of RTA charges is being undertaken.

During the period of that review, if a patient is also paying private inpatient charges, the RTA charges shall be reduced by the amount of the private in-patient charges already paid (to a maximum of the total amount of the RTA charges) in the following circumstances:
(i) private in-patient charges and RTA charges have been levied on a patient, and
(ii) the private in-patient charges and RTA charges relate to the same period of hospitalisation.

By way of illustration, if private in-patient charges in the amount of €2,000 have been paid and RTA charges in the amount of €5,000 have been levied (both in respect of the same period of hospitalisation), the amount of the RTA charges should be €3,000:
(i) €2,000 in respect of private in-patient charges paid; and
(ii) €3,000 in respect of RTA charges.

The total amount of the combined charges, therefore, is €5,000.