Irish expats could find repatriation is an expensive luxury

Published:  5 Feb at 6 PM
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Many Irish expats returning to their home country after years away will face a massive hike in their cost of living as well as having financial hurdles to jump.

In addition to having to find a suitable property to call home during one of the country’s worse housing crises for decades, Irish returnees are likely to also have to battle to get any kind of social welfare. In addition, those wishing to take out private health insurance will need to do so within nine months of their repatriation or be prepared to pay far more than they need to. Health insurance companies are now loading premiums from the age of 34 years at 2 per cent per annum. For retirees aged 59 years or older, the loading for those purchasing health insurance for the first time will stand at 70 per cent.

The way the loading/age calculations are made could confuse not only a stupid person but also those with far above average intelligence, as logic seems not to be one of the insurers’ strong points. For example, if an emigrant who’d never bought private health insurance left the Emerald Isle after May 1 2015 and had returned by November 1 2018, he or she would not be able to avoid the hefty premium loading, but expats who left at the same time but returned after November 1 would be able to get a credit for their time overseas provided they bought health insurance within nine months of their arriving home.

In fact, the Republic has a government-funded comprehensive healthcare system available to anyone who’s lived there for a year or more, including expats from other EU countries. ‘Ordinarily residents’ are fully eligible for all services and ‘limited eligibility’ subsidised services can be had by many others, including expats. Ireland’s healthcare provision is amongst the best in the world, whether in private or publicly funded hospitals and clinics, meaning that especially for returning Irish expats there’s no real need to purchase private health insurance.
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