Yes and no.
All persons resident in Ireland are entitled to receive health care through the public health care system, which is managed by the Health Service Executive and funded by general taxation. Like Medicare in the U.S., the public health system requires coinsurance payments for certain types of care. Poor individuals (or those on welfare or who have certain long-term/severe illnesses) are eligible for a Medical Card. The Medical Card entitles beneficiaries to to free hospital care, GP visits, dental services, optical services, aural services, prescription drugs and medical appliances. According to Wikipedia, “Those on slightly higher incomes are eligible for a GP Visit Card which entitles the holder to free general practitioner visits. For persons over 70 years who are not entitled to a medical card or GP visit card they instead receive an annual cash grant of €400 up to a certain income.”
Despite the fact that all individuals have access to public health insurance, a near majority of Irish residents also buy private health insurance as well. In June 2012, 2,123 million people – or 46.3 percent of the population – held private health insurance.
Private health insurance, however, is under attack. In June 2012 there were 61,000 less people privately insured than in June 2011.
The reason for this is the rise in cost of private health insurance, due in part to a 40 per cent increase in the Government levy on private health insurance announced at the beginning of the year. In fact, the rise in private healthcare costs has been a leading contributor to the rise in the consumer price index over the last year.