How do I pay for my treatment?

The number of free and reduced-rate mental health services is growing, and that there are more options available for those who cannot afford to pay fees. If you have a medical card, most of your public fees and costs will be covered. If you have private health insurance, your treatment costs as an in-patient and day-patient should be covered by your insurance provider.

Paying for public mental health services

Do I have to pay for mental health treatment in the public system?
The Citizens Information website advises that everyone who is accepted by the HSE to be an ordinary resident in Ireland, regardless of nationality, is entitled to free maintenance and treatment in public beds in both HSE and voluntary hospitals. However, some hospital charges (different from fees) will apply.

Medical Cards

If you are over the age of 16, and you have a medical card, you are entitled to free GP, community and hospital treatment. However, even if you do have a medical card, you will have to pay some hospital charges if you have stayed in the hospital as a voluntary patient for longer than 30 days over the last 12 months.

Children under the age of 16 who need hospital treatment for mental health difficulties are entitled to free inpatient services, regardless of whether or not they have a medical card.

The new Counselling in Primary Care service is now available to all medical card holders over the age of 18. For more information, see our section on Counselling and Psychotherapy services.

Drug Payment Scheme

The Drug Payment Scheme sets an upper limit on the amount that a family or individual should have to pay per month for prescription drugs. The upper limit can change from year to year. You do not need a medical card to qualify for the scheme; you just need to be an ordinary resident in Ireland.

The scheme applies to children under the age of 18, as well as to those who are dependent on their family and are aged between 18 and 23, as long as they are in full time education.

You can apply through your local health office or by downloading the application form online.

Paying for private mental health services

How do I pay for mental health treatment in the private system?

Although you have to pay fees for out-patient mental health treatment, if you have private health insurance, your insurer should partly or wholly cover both in-patient and day-patient treatment costs, though this will depend on your policy. For more information, see our sections on St Patrick’s University Hospital and St John of God’s Hospital.

How do I get private health insurance?

Health Insurance is used to pay for private treatment in a hospital, and sometimes to pay for treatment from healthcare providers working in a particular hospital. If you want to get private health insurance, you must apply directly to the insurance company you wish to join. It’s worth checking out if the insurance company provides for the type of mental health treatment you need, and whether this is covered for under your particular policy. As most insurance policies are 12 month contracts, you will have to wait until your next renewal date before switching providers if your insurance is not suitable for your healthcare needs.

The Citizens Information website provides more detailed information on Private Health Insurance, including information on how to apply.

What about children?

Children under 16 who are experiencing mental health difficulties are entitled to community services free of charge, regardless of whether they hold a medical card.