IMPACT outlines universal health insurance risks

IMPACT moved quickly to expose the risks inherent in health minister James Reilly’s plans for universal health insurance after he published a white paper on the proposals on Wednesday (2nd April).

The union expressed its disappointment at the minister’s determination to press ahead with a ‘competing private insurers’ model and criticised the restrictive consultation process he outlined. IMPACT national secretary Louise O’Donnell again outlined the union’s fears in a letter published in today’s Irish Times.

She said the proposed scheme was fundamentally flawed. “It will place an immediate financial burden on families, and it has been produced without any meaningful consultation process. The consultation is restricted to what this competing insurers model will look like. There is no consultation taking place on any other options, such as those recommended in the 2012 IMPACT-commissioned report by Dr Jane Pillinger, The Future of Healthcare in Ireland .”

The union has urged the Government to evaluate an alternative ‘single-payer’ social insurance model like those used in France, Germany and Nordic countries. Louise said: “Families will be required by law to have health insurance, but there is a real risk that this will be an impossible financial burden from the very start, particularly for the growing number of people without health insurance who don’t qualify for a medical card. This group will be compelled to purchase health insurance for every member of their family, unlike the Dutch insurance model, previously lauded by the minister, where children are insured for free.”

IMPACT is now consulting with other health unions on the best approach to the official consultation process, which closes on 25th May.

Read our article from the latest edition IMPACT’s Work & Life magazine.