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The ruse is up, Universal Health Insurance would benefit for-profit companies only – Ó Caoláin

5 November, 2014 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the discussion opened by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on Universal Health Insurance and Universal Health Care.

The representative body for medical doctors held a seminar entitled Funding Universal Healthcare: Realistic Options for Ireland in Dublin last night.

“We in Sinn Féin have long recognised that there is a massive and fundamental difference between Universal Health Care and Universal Health Insurance. When Fine Gael and Labour should have been aiming for a system of Universal Health Care that would allow timely access to suitable care, free at the point of delivery for all citizens, they simply looked to Universal Health Insurance as a solution for everything. In reality it is merely a funding model, and a deeply flawed funding model at that” said Deputy Ó Caoláin.

“Sinn Féin is strongly opposed to the pro-business and for-profit slant of Fine Gael in relation to Healthcare. UHI represents a fillip for Private Health Insurance companies, and for-profit healthcare companies. Similar models in the Netherlands have seen the quality and range of care continually reduced with premia rising by up to 40%.

“Further, the majority of the population purchases additional insurance cover to make up the shortfall in UHI. The Dutch had also made a large investment in primary care prior to the introduction of UHI.

“We also see in the USA that the system of privatisation simply diverts badly needed funds away from frontline services towards administration and introduces the forces of the market economy with ‘consumers’ buying ‘products’. The multi-payer model also requires much regulation, again taking the focus away from treating patients.

“We welcome the fact that the IMO is facilitating a debate on the best way to fund a single tier health system. I note that a progressive taxation system is generally recognised as the most equitable funding mechanism. It is most unfortunate that the present Government did not see fit to consult the wide range and depth of experience at home and internationally that exists in our health service.

“Sinn Féin has long held that an equitable system of healthcare must be based on a progressive funding model to ensure that those in poverty, those who are most in need of healthcare services, can access an acceptable level of service without having to pay hand over fist at every turn.

“The proposed UHI system does little to address other problems surrounding the health services. Investment in the healthcare system needs to occur to redress the cut of a quarter in the overall health spend and to replace the 10% of beds we have seen taken away. Investment in primary care needs to occur as a key component and as a priority” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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