Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has accused the Health Minister of trying to defuse the controversial issue of Universal, or compulsory, Health Insurance by claiming its introduction by 2019 is too ambitious. Fianna Fáil has serious concerns about the UHI proposals and is calling on Minister Leo Varadkar to scrap them altogether.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “There is no doubt that Minister Varadkar has a huge challenge ahead of him but he needs to ensure that the policies he’s choosing to implement are fair, equitable and will improve services for the patient. Universal Health Insurance, or compulsory health insurance, will amount to nothing more than a major tax hike for a great many people.
“The Department of Public Expenditure has estimated the average annual cost of a policy under the UHI plans will be in the region of €1,600. This will create a huge burden for individuals and families who are already struggling with additional taxes and charges brought in by this Government. The introduction of UHI, while increasing costs for the public, will not result in guaranteed access to universal health care. An independent report commissioned by Fianna Fáil last year found that there is evidence to suggest that a move to UHI will lead to higher costs without any significant improvements in health outcomes.
“Fine Gael and Labour are basing their plans on the Dutch system, which introduced universal private health insurance with managed competition in 2006. According to recent reports a family with a combined income of under €50,000 a year was paying almost €11,500 in health costs in 2012. That would be completely unfeasible for most Irish families.
“What we need is a strong public health system, one where the impact of public funding is maximised, where services are as close to people as is consistent with quality care and where new opportunities to provide improved care are being sought. That is not what UHI provides. The Government should be looking towards a taxation-funded system which gives the Minister more control over the overall health care bill.
“Minister Varadkar’s comments this morning are nothing more than an attempt to defuse this issue ahead of the general election. Only a commitment to scrap the plans can do this. It remains a part of the government programme so as long as that stands I remain sceptical”.