Irish Health Spending

Key Point

Current health spending in Ireland in 2013 was €18.4 billion or 12.4 % of Gross National Income (GNI). Spending in Ireland appears relatively high by EU standards given the age structure of our population.

Financing Health

The System of Health Accounts1 provides information on health spending in Ireland. Table 1 shows the breakdown of current spending on health in 2013.


Table 1 – Health Financing in 2013
1012 T1-page-001
(Source: CSO)

Current health spending in Ireland in 2013 was €18.4 billion or 12.4 % of Gross National Income (GNI). The Government funded 71 percent of this amount with the rest coming from voluntary health care payments (14 percent), and household out-of-pocket payments (15 percent).

Voluntary health care payments are mainly payments to voluntary health insurance schemes (private insurance). In 2013, 83 percent of voluntary health care payments were related to voluntary health insurance schemes (private health insurance). The residual was made up of other voluntary payments (17%), which come from fund-raising, amongst other sources.

Health Expenditure Rising

Spending on health peaked in Ireland in 2009 at 12.8 % of GNI – almost double what it was in the year 2000 when it was 6.8 %. Total spending was €549 million higher in 2013 than in 2009 – made up of a rise in private spending of €1214 million and a fall of €666 million (4.8 %) in public spending.

Figure 1 illustrates the change in current health spending from 2000 to 2013. Public spending has increased by 164 percent over the period by €8.1 billion, and private spending has increased by two and half times (269 %) €3.9 billion.

Figure 1
1012 T2-page-001 (1)
(Source: CSO)

The change in the percentage share of public and private spending on health from 2000 to 2013 is illustrated in table 2.

Table 2 – Public and Private Health Expenditure as a % of Total Heath Expenditure

1012 T3-page-001

The share of public expenditure on health from 2000 to 2013 averaged 77.4 percent of total expenditure, but there has been a shift to private spending in recent years. Since 2007 the share of private spending has risen by 8 percentage points.

The change in public and private shares of health expenditure as a percentage of GNI is shown in figure 2.

Figure 2
1012 T4-page-001
(Source: CSO)

International Comparisons

Average spending in OECD countries in 2013 was 9 % of GDP (compared with 12.4 % of GNI in Ireland). Public spending in Ireland was 8.8 % of GNI in 2013. Health spending in Ireland appears to be relatively high by international standards. This is particularly so given our relatively young population. OECD data shows that 12.7 % of the population in Ireland was over 65 compared to an EU average of 18 %.


1 Data is taken from Table 7 of the System of Health Accounts published by the CSO.

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