Facts and Figures

The Irish health system is in a critical state.  There are huge inequalities in health outcomes in Ireland.  There are major discrepancies in access to healthcare and in health outcomes across different groups. 

If you live in poverty in Ireland you are more likely to be sick and less likely to have access to healthcare services when you need them.  The Irish healthcare system creates inequality by denying or delaying access to healthcare for people based on their income.

  • 1 in 5 people say they or a family member has been denied or delayed access to healthcare because of an inability to pay.
  • 19 per cent of people have neither a Medical Card nor private health insurance.
  • 50,000 people who live in consistent poverty do not have a medical card.
  • 199,000 people at risk of poverty do not have a medical card.


Those with more resources have better access to private health insurance.

  • 55 per cent of individuals with private health insurance coverage belong to the ABC1 group (three highest socio-economic groups, consisting of 25 per cent of the population) whereas only 10 per cent of those with private health insurance belong to the lowest socio-economic group (9 per cent of the population).
  • Private health insurance is more popular within higher income groups and, since 2004, the average cost of private health insurance has risen by over 45 per cent.
  • With rising costs and rising unemployment, the number of people with private health insurance decreased by approximately 42,000 between June 2009 and June 2010.
  • Despite the high levels of private insurance coverage in Ireland, only 7 per cent of total health spending can be attributed to private health insurance companies.
  • Public funding has been used to provide private access to healthcare that is only available to individuals who can afford private health insurance.

Even with access to a medical card, those with private health insurance have better access to healthcare.

  • Medical card holders are three times more likely to be on ‘inpatient’ waiting lists and twice as likely to be on ‘out-patient’ waiting lists.

Read more about the campaign

Take action now and show your support for a right to health.