Statement by IMO - IMO “alarm” at Government’s plans for patients to require health insurance for GP services
Tuesday 10th February 2015. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that the Government is preparing a mandate that will require patients to have health insurance to access certain procedures and services through their GPs.
The Department of Health has launched a consultative process inviting submissions on the scope of private health insurance to incorporate additional primary care services. Primary care refers to services provided primarily through General Practice. The IMO made a submission on the matter on the 30th January.
In its submission, the IMO argued that a move to require patients to purchase Private Health Insurance for GP services runs counter to the Government policy of expanding free GP care to the entire population. Speaking today, Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO said that there had been no mention of private health insurance when the Government talked about free GP services for young and old; “if the Government has its way, it looks like free GP services will only be free for those who pay for their insurance.”
The IMO warned that the introduction of mandatory private health insurance to fund GP services would destroy many of the positive characteristics of the current GP system in Ireland.
Dr. Walley said that the IMO was concerned that such a move would see GPs being forced to treat patients differently depending on whether they had insurance or not, that the profitability of insurance companies would force behaviour and business changes on GP practices, that same-day appointments would become a thing-of-the-past and that independent GPs would be replaced by corporate GP practices with reduced availability of GPs in rural Ireland.
Dr. Walley said that this Government’s ideological obsession with Universal Health Insurance had led to four wasted years in respect of health policy; “the Government is ignoring the central reality that GP services are being starved of resources. That is having a direct impact on the ability of GPs to meet the needs of their patients and the availability of GP services in growing parts of the country. The Government needs to face up to this issue and commit to increasing resources for GP services and for the wider health services as a matter of urgency.”