Maternity Services During Pregnancy
Medical card holders receive certain health services free of charge. Normally, your dependent spouse and children are also covered for the same range of health services. Medical card holders are exempt from paying the 2% Health Levy part of social insurance and from the 1% Income Levy introduced in 2009. They may also be exempt from paying school transport charges, State exam fees in publicly-funded second-level schools. There may also be financial help with buying school books in certain schools.
If you have a medical-card, you are entitled to maternity care, infant welfare services, a general practitioner and other services including dental, optical and the supply of drugs. You will also receive a maternity grant of €10.16 on the birth of your baby. Application for the grant should be made to the local area office of the health board. Your baby should be put on your medical-card as soon as he/she is born.
Medical-card holders are entitled to dental and optical services. You will probably have long delays as no priority is given to pregnant woman. However, if you are in pain or have a letter from your doctor to say that your health is suffering from lack of dental treatment, it should be possible to see a dentist quickly.
Public Health Care
If you are above the income limit for a medical-card, you are entitled to all in-patient public hospital services in public wards, subject to certain charges. A maternity and infant care service is provided free of charge to all women. This includes the services of the family doctor during pregnancy and family services for you and your baby for up to six weeks after the birth. It also includes in-patient and out-patient services at either a maternity hospital or in a maternity unit of a general hospital as a public patient. If you want to attend your doctor, you are entitled to six antenatal and two postnatal visits free of charge, or more if your doctor thinks it necessary. To avail yourself of this, your doctor must be participating in the maternity services scheme and you must apply to the health board. Application forms are available from your doctor or from the health board.
Private Health Care
You can attend an obstetrician privately. This means you will see the same doctor at every visit, although there is no guarantee that your consultant will be there at the birth. Visits are made by appointment. The consultant’s fee can be €3,500-€5,000. Accommodation in private hospitals can reach €910 per day and semi-private accommodation in public hospitals can cost as much as €713 per day. You will also have other expenses such as epidurals and tests. If you have private health insurance, it will cover most of your expenses.
Non-medical-card holders who pay PRSI or who can claim on their husband’s PRSI are entitled to dental and optical services under the Department of Social Welfare Treatment Benefit Scheme. Some of these services, such as routine dental treatment and eye tests, are free of charge. However, you will have to pay some of the costs of most other treatments.
The Department of Social Welfare will give you a list of dentists who are participating in the Treatment Benefit Scheme.