Sunday 24 September 2017

Universal healthcare 'more bad than good' – FF report

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE Government's plan for universal healthcare insurance may prove more disruptive than beneficial, according to a report by a health economist.

Dr Brian Turner, of University College Cork, was asked by Fianna Fail to do an analysis of the Government's plan.

Although a detailed document from Health Minister James Reilly is still awaited, it is generally proposed that the plan would see people paying premiums, either fully or subsidised according to their income, while it would be free to those on social welfare.

The aim is to end the two-tier health system whereby privately-insured patients are fast-tracked for care while those on public waiting lists face delays.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Dr Turner said proposed funding changes would be disruptive and may outweigh the advantages.

"Furthermore, any reform of the funding mechanism would entail costs... which would need to be set against any benefits that it might bring," he added.

The report points out that Fine Gael based much of its Faircare proposals prior to the 2011 election on the Dutch system. This system has seen healthcare spending per capita increase by 46pc between 2005 (the last year prior to reform) and 2010.

The report also points out that around 23pc of the adult population have neither a medical card or health insurance. Paying even part of the average premium of over €1,000 would be beyond the ability of many of these.

Fianna Fail's health spokesman Billy Kelleher said "there are very serious alarm bells ringing now about the direction in which Fine Gael and Labour are taking the health service."

Irish Independent

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