Accessing healthcare in another country

If you are ordinarily resident in Ireland (living in Ireland for at least one year) you can choose to access healthcare in other countries in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (the EEA also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland.

You can access this care through the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive or the Treatment Abroad Scheme.

There are a number of differences between these schemes and it is important to review the requirements carefully and choose which one is appropriate for you. In general, the Treatment Abroad Scheme covers treatments that are not available in Ireland while the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive only covers treatments that are publicly funded and available in Ireland. You will find information about the main differences between the schemes on the Citizens Information website here.

Cross Border Healthcare Directive

The Cross-Border Healthcare Directive (CBD) entitles any person ordinarily resident in Ireland (living in Ireland for at least one year) to receive healthcare in another country in the European Union or European Economic Area. The Cross-Border Healthcare Directive is relevant for any healthcare that is available through the public health system in Ireland.

In order to avail of the CBD you must be referred to the health service abroad by a GP or consultant. Only a GP or a consultant you are attending in a public capacity can refer you for CBD treatment. If the treatment involves an overnight stay in hospital, you should get prior authorisation in advance from the HSE.

You must pay for the care yourself and then apply for a refund for the cost of the treatment. The amount repaid to the individual would be the cost of the public healthcare treatment in Ireland. If the treatment costs less abroad than it would have in Ireland, you can only claim for what you paid.

A range of ophthalmic services are available under the sCBD. More information on the criteria, the application process and how to apply for reimbursement can be found on the HSE website here.

Treatment Abroad Scheme

The Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS) allows people ordinarily resident in Ireland (living in Ireland for at least one year) to access healthcare in another country in the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. This scheme is available in circumstances where the treatment cannot be accessed in Ireland or cannot be accessed in the time needed to obtain treatment.

The treatment must be a medically necessary treatment that will meet your needs. It must be a proven form of medical treatment, not an experimental or test treatment. Referrals abroad must be completed by a public hospital consultant based in Ireland, a GP cannot refer you for this scheme.

In applying for the TAS the patient is applying for funding for the proposed treatment. The amount covered by the scheme varies depending on the country where you get treatment and the treatment that you need.

The Treatment Abroad Scheme does not cover travel or subsistence expenses for you or your relatives. However assistance may be provided towards reasonable economic air or sea travel fares for you and a travelling companion where appropriate. If the patient is under 18 or needs assistance when travelling for medical reasons, travel expenses may be considered once their application is approved. More information on the Treatment Abroad Scheme can be found on the HSE website here.