Prescription Charges in Ireland

Prescription Charges in Ireland


The national heath care system in Ireland combines a public health care system for eligible groups (mostly those on low incomes and those aged over 70) with fee-based services for those who are not [2]. Eligible patients, around 29% of the population [1], receive a medical card and are entitled to free GP services, prescribed drugs and medicines, public hospital services, dental services, optical services aural services, maternity and infant care services, a range of community care and personal social services. The rest of the population, who are not eligible for a medical card, are entitled to free public hospital services but pay in-patient and out-patient hospital charges. They are also entitled to subsidised prescribed drugs and medicines and maternity and infant care services. This group is not entitled to free GP services [3].

The Irish health system includes a list of prescribed drugs and medicines and certain medical and surgical aids and appliances which are available to all its population either free, or at a subsidised rate [3].

Patient co-payments

In Ireland patients either pay for their prescription medications up to a monthly cap, after which the state covers the cost, or receive some, or all, of their prescription medication free [3].

Reduced Co-Payments

There are no reduced co-payments for prescription medication in the Irish healthcare system; all medicines are either free or charged for. There is however a cap on the amount of co-payment for those who are not eligible for free prescriptions [3] .

Co-Payment Exemptions

Members of the population who are eligible for a medical card [4] and people who contracted Hepatitis C from the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D, or from the receipt within Ireland of any blood product, or certain people who have had a blood transfusion, are entitled to get approved prescribed drugs and medicines free of charge [3].

Child health services, including childhood vaccinations, are provided free of charge to all children regardless of their parents’ circumstances. Otherwise children and young people under the age of 18 have the same benefits as their parents.

In addition, people suffering from certain diseases or disabilities qualify for free prescribed medicines for that disease regardless of their medical card status [3] (approximately 2% of the population [1]). These include:

Mental handicap
Mental illness (for people under 16 only)
Cystic fibrosis
Spina bifida
Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes insipidus
Cerebral palsy
Multiple sclerosis
Muscular dystrophies,
Acute leukaemia
Conditions associated with Thalidomide [3]
Cap on Co-Payment

A Drugs Payment Scheme operates in Ireland which provides a €85 cap per calendar month on the amount an individual or family has to pay towards their prescription medications [3].



    1. Bronner, M et al (2005) Pharmaceutical Pricing & Reimbursement 2005: a concise guide, PPR Communications Ltd.
    2. [Accessed 12/01/2006]
    3. [Accessed 12/01/2006]
    4. [Accessed 9/01/2006]

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