Irish Medical Organisation

IMO urges Government to consider negative effects of competition on healthcare

 14th April 2012
The Irish Medical Organisation today launched their position paper on The Market Model of Health Care – Caveat Emptor during a debate titled: 
‘This house believes that the market model of healthcare is not the best option for Ireland.’
Faced with spiralling costs of health care, policy makers are increasingly looking to competition in health care markets in an effort to increase efficiency and quality of care and drive down costs.
Speaking at the debate Dr. Mary Gray, IMO GP Committee member said; “Health care markets are imperfect markets and the consequences of free competition in health care can conflict with policy goals.”
“Because of market failure and because health is a major political issue most governments intervene in health care markets.  In reality most countries rely on different mixtures of market mechanisms and regulation.”
The Government Programme for National Recovery 2011-2016 sets out a range of measures for reform of the Irish health system based on the Dutch model of managed competition between public and private health insurers and public and private health care providers, ‘a universal single-tier health service, which guarantees access to medical care based on need, not income. However, details of the system of Universal Health Insurance in the form of a White Paper have yet to be published.  
Dr.Gray said; “The IMO supports Universal Health Care and has laid out in its policy position paper on Universal Health Coverage the basis of a future universal health care system regardless of the model of financing.”
“Based on our own experience and the experience of other countries, the IMO has doubts whether an unregulated competitive health market is desirable and has grave concerns about the access and choice, quality of care and affordability under a free market model of health care.”
The IMO recommendations include:
Calling for the publication of the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance in order to progress the debate on the future of Ireland’s health care system
The role of the GP as gatekeeper/guardian of the health system must be recognised as in the best interest of the patient and the State.

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