Irish consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the concept of medical tourism, with many choosing to seek cheap medical treatment abroad.
According to industry insiders, patients are travelling abroad for a range of procedures, ranging from dental treatment and orthopaedic work to breast and heart surgery.
While in the UK one of the key reasons to travel overseas is to avoid NHS waiting lists, this is no longer such a problem in Ireland, where the main reasons are to seek specialist treatments and to obtain lower prices.
Fintan Hourihane, industrial relations officer at the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), told the Sunday Business Post that it was impossible to measure the increase in medical tourism.
"The significance of the increase is difficult to gauge as people are not referred by their GPs but are deciding individually to go," he told the paper.
However, Deirdre Ashe, marketing director of insurer Vivas Health, confirmed that medical tourism is indeed "an emerging trend" in Ireland and said that the company would provide cover for any specialist treatments that are medically endorsed in Ireland, so long as the patient's consultant recommends the procedure.
What's better? Private or NHS healthcare?