The Irish health care system is based on a complex and costly mix of private, statutory, and voluntary provisions. The majority of health care expenditure comes from the state, with a significant proportion of acute hospital care funded from private insurance, but there are relatively high out-of-pocket costs for most service users.
There is free access to acute hospital care, but not for primary care, for all children. About 40% of the population have free access to primary care. Universal preventive public health services, including vaccination and immunization, newborn blood spot screening, and universal neonatal hearing screening are free. Major health challenges include poverty, obesity, drug and alcohol use, and mental health. The health care system has been dominated for the last 5 years by the impact of the current recession, which has led to very sharp cuts in health care expenditure. It is unclear if the necessary substantial reform of the system will happen.