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“Shelve the white elephant that is UHI” - Ó Caoláin

3 February, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has again called for Universal Health Insurance (UHI) to be shelved after further criticism from health stakeholders across the political spectrum. 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;

“The Department of Public Expenditure (DPER) has “fundamental concerns” about UHI. It appears that those less well-off would have no guarantee to services or medications for minimum cost. This means that those currently covered by medical cards would lose out under the proposed system.

“DPER also said that the range of services and those who will qualify for subsidy “do not seem suited for controlling costs annually”. They even raised the possibility of the system running out of money before year end. We have seen no defence by the Minister to many of the arguments. Minister Varadkar appears to have stalled on this plan. Has he decided against former Minister Reilly’s UHI entirely?

“The Society of Actuaries in Ireland has also warned that insurers could need up to €2.4 billion in additional regulatory capital to operate UHI. How will taking money away from patient care and handing it to private health interests benefit our health system? Minister Varadkar mentioned a possible new charge of €1,500 and that it could not now be sought. Are we to take it that this will be the cost of UHI per person?

“We also still need to know what will be covered in the basket of services. The Irish Medical Organisation has predicted that “the system as outlined will restrict choice and lead to rapid closures of smaller health facilities throughout the country”. I call on the Minister to address the concerns raised by Sinn Féin and many other bodies and individuals and shelve the white elephant that is UHI.” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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