Irish Medical Organisation

IMO AGM hears of serious concerns over Governments plans for Universal Health Insurance

Saturday 26th April 2014. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has raised serious concerns about the Government’s proposals for Universal Health Insurance (UHI). The Government published a White Paper on UHI earlier this month and has stated its plans to introduce the system to Ireland over the coming years.

The problems identified with the Dutch system at the AGM today included:

  • Rising costs (The Dutch model is now one of the most expensive health systems in the OECD. Health expenditure in the Netherlands ranks second in terms of percentage of GDP and fourth in terms of per capita spending)
  • A scaling back of services covered in the basic basket of health services provided under the Dutch model – with a real risk that the initial basket of services offered under the Irish model might also be reduced over time.
  • A reduction in the number of providers providing Private Health Insurance in the Netherlands despite that country having a population of 16 million – four times the Irish number.

The meeting also heard that the Dutch system had been 30 years in the making and that it was highly questionable whether the Irish economy had the capacity to adopt such a model and, particularly whether the underfunded Irish health service was capable of this type of transformation in its funding model.

Professor Duffy added that it was important that the debate did not confuse the concept of Universal Health Insurance with Universal Health Care. UHI is a funding model for healthcare; it is not a guarantee of the quality of that care.

Professor Duffy said that the principles of Universal Health should not be based around the funding model but around equitable and timely access to all necessary healthcare.

The IMO has set out 11 principles, which it believes should underpin the health system:

  • Access to adequate health care for all
  • Services that are free at the point of access
  • Equity of access
  • Solidarity
  • Transparency
  • Quality of care and value for money
  • Choice and mobility
  • Clinical Autonomy
  • Efficiency
  • Affordability
  • Sustainability

The President of the IMO, Professor Trevor Duffy, said that the IMO believed that the goals of the Government can be achieved through an expanded taxation model or through a system of social health insurance.


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