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Universal Health Insurance would deepen inequalities and cost more - Ó Caoláin

17 November, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has today said that the memo  that casts doubts on the viability of introducing Universal Health Insurance, brought to cabinet by the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar earlier today, is a vindication of what Sinn Féin have been saying from the get go.

UHI, the Government’s flagship health policy, would see all members of the public forced to buy health insurance and has led to a reduction in services and increases in costs when introduced in other countries.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“It is reported this morning that the introduction of a UHI model of healthcare delivery would involve additional costs of more than €650m. From the beginning Sinn Fein and a number of health stakeholders have criticised this proposed model.

"While Fine Gael and Labour should have been using their years in office to pursue a system of Universal Health Care that would allow timely access to suitable care, free at the point of delivery for all citizens, they looked instead to Universal Health Insurance as a solution for everything. In reality it is merely a funding model, and a fundamentally flawed one at that.

“Sinn Féin is strongly opposed to the pro-business and for-profit slant of Fine Gael’s approach to Healthcare. UHI represents a fillip for Private Health Insurance companies, and the for-profit healthcare approach.

“A similar model in the Netherlands has seen the quality and range of care continually reduced with premia rising by up to 40%. Further, the majority of the population find they have to purchase additional insurance cover to make up the shortfall in services covered by UHI. The Dutch had also made a large investment in primary care prior to the introduction of UHI, something Ireland has clearly failed to do.

“The continuing inequalities in our health system are a direct result of the deep social and economic divisions in our society, with the wealthier sections enjoying better health and speedier access to healthcare compared to the less well off. Universal Health Insurance would only accentuate those inequalities.

“No public service is more important than healthcare and in no service is equality of access and quality of care more vital. It is a matter of life and death” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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