Ireland has a one payer health care system where everyone is entitled to health care, the costs are recovered through general taxation and the less money you make, the more health coverage you receive. Government run healthcare is the single biggest employer in Ireland as well as being the most expensive budget item in the country. In spite of the good intentions of this plan, variety of care is poor, waits are long and working people typically purchase their own health insurance policies.
A reciprocal agreement between the European Union and Ireland allows visitors from the EU to receive care should they need it using a European Health Insurance Care where as Americans are highly encouraged to purchase individual travel insurance. Travel insurance can be researched and purchased online using a major credit card and special care should be taken to purchase age appropriate coverage by reading the fine print.
While the quality of healthcare and the cleanliness of healthcare facilities is considered adequate, there is likely to be a limited number of facilities available when traveling in rural areas. Travelers should be prepared to show proof of travel insurance as well as picture ID should medical care be required.