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Universal health care may be taken from your wages

Health Minister Dr James Reilly's plan to deduct the cost of basic health insurance from the wages and benefits of people who refuse to pay has provoked outrage.

Dr Reilly's health reforms were described as a "massive tax hike".

Under the reforms of the health system, known as Universal Health Insurance, everyone in the country would have to have at least a standard level of cover from any insurance company.

But the health insurance would be mandatory and anybody who refuses to pay will have the price deducted at source – similar to the property tax.

Opposition parties reacted angrily to the proposals.

Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the charges were another tax.

"It is effectively a massive tax hike for people who can't afford it," he said.

Mr Kelleher said the Government was stalling on publishing the proposals after three years in power.

Sinn Fein's health spokesman Caoimhghin O Caolian said the Coalition's concept of Universal Health Insurance based on competing private health insurance companies is "fundamentally flawed".

Reform Alliance Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames told the Herald she has already been contacted by three constituents concerned at the proposals.

"Basically, people have nothing left. One woman has only €10 a week left," he said.

Under the plan, all members of the public will have to be insured to the same standard by an insurance firms.

In the event a person fails to buy the insurance, the State will take out the policy on their behalf and "recoup the cost at source from income or benefits".

Dr Reilly's spokesman said it was well established the Universal Health Insurance will have to be mandatory.

"Where somebody doesn't pay for it, a method will have to be found to get them to do so," the spokesman said.


The new Universal Health Insurance will be introduced within five years, according to a new Government report.

But how the system of mandatory health insurance and the overhaul of the system will be funded is still not clear.

The Coalition is planning to consult with the public, through a Citizens Health Assembly, in deciding what should actually be covered by the basic insurance package.