Sunday 17 December 2017

Doctors: Public is being misled over health insurance

Dr Trevor Duffy says people will lose out. Photo: Aidan Crawley
Dr Trevor Duffy says people will lose out. Photo: Aidan Crawley

Anne-Marie Walsh

PEOPLE with private health insurance will get less for their money under the Government's universal health insurance plan, doctors insist.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) issued a damning indictment of the government proposal and accused it of misleading the public.

It was commenting after making a submission to the Government in response to a recent White Paper on its proposals for a system of Universal Health Insurance.

The plan aims to end queue-jumping for health services by people who can pay or have private cover.

Under the plan, it will be mandatory for everyone to choose cover for a basic package, or 'basket' of services, from a number of different insurers.

The State will pay the lowest income groups' premiums and provide subsidies for the better-off. It will deduct premiums from the pay of those who refuse to take out cover.

It will be possible to take out supplementary health insurance to cover areas not included in the standard package, including private rooms in hospitals.

President of the IMO, Professor Trevor Duffy, said many people with private health insurance will have to continue to pay, but will lose access to the benefits they currently enjoy.

He said the government plan will also "lead to additional payments by many people to cover services that are currently financed through the taxation system".

An IMO spokesperson said many who currently purchase private health insurance do so in order to avoid waiting lists.

"Under the Government's proposals, people will still be required to purchase health insurance but they will no longer be able to use it to avoid waiting lists," she said.

"At present people can opt in or out of private health insurance, but in the proposals, insurance will be mandatory for a lot of people."

The IMO said costs for the public were likely to escalate because in order to keep within its budget, the Government will have to restrict the basic 'basket of care' on offer.

Irish Independent

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