Irish Medical Organisation

Government proposals for Universal Health Insurance - Response from IMO

“Government seems to be locked into a Dutch model just as it begins to flounder in Holland.”

Wednesday 2nd April 2014. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned the Government that its plans for Universal Health Insurance risk tying Ireland into a “Dutch Model” even as that model is coming unstuck in its home country.” The IMO was responding to the publication today by the Government of a White Paper on Universal Health Insurance.

Speaking today, Dr. Matthew Sadlier, President of the IMO said that the Government should expand the debate on Universal Health Insurance to embrace a broader discussion about alternative financing options for health services.
Dr. Sadlier said; “Contrary to what the Government might suggest, the Insurance model is not the be-all and end-all of funding models for health services. There are alternative funding strategies which are worth debating including an expanded Social Insurance model and the current tax-based model.”

Dr. Sadlier expressed particular concern that the Government seems to have ruled out any increase in the overall budget for the health services. He said; “we’re going to spend the next few months focussed on which part of the population should spend how much on services rather than the more fundamental question of how we can improve our health services overall.”

Dr. Sadlier said that there were serious reservations with the Insurance model in general and with the Dutch Model in particular; “In Holland the initial success of their insurance model has been replaced by growing problems. The Dutch health system is now one of the most expensive in the OECD and serious questions have been raised over the financial sustainability of the system. It should be of particular concern to us in Ireland to note that in Holland, the minimum basket of services covered has reduced and more and more people are now supplementing their basic cover with private health insurance. ”

Dr. Sadlier also warned that Ireland’s experience of Insurance Models for Health Services had not been encouraging; “the existing commercial health insurance companies in Ireland are haemorrhaging customers and the State’s own insurer is facing serious financial problems. Our recent experience should caution us against going down the insurance route but it seems to have the opposite effect on the Minister.”


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