Tuesday, February 08, 2011



The Labour Party is today (Tuesday February 8th, 2011) launching its 'Plan for Fair Health Care' which timetables how Ireland can make a genuine shift towards primary care through the introduction of Universal Health Insurance. Labour in Government will introduce Universal Primary Care Insurance for every citizen by 2014. At the same time Labour will end the two-tier system in hospital care so that everyone has the same access to treatment through a Universal Hospital Care Insurance system by 2016.

Universal Primary Care Insurance for every citizen, which covers upfront GP fees, will cost an additional €389 million, will be phased in over four years, and will be funded by savings in the health care budget.

Under Labour's plans people will pay for Universal Hospital Care Insurance as they do now, through Exchequer funding and an insurance premium. People will be able to choose an insurance provider, but the insurance package offered must include a guaranteed basket of care: semi-private accommodation and consultant-provided care.

Labour's Universal Health Insurance policy is costed, planned and timetabled. Labour has based its costings on published Irish research, including extensive research by Trinity College and the Adelaide Hospital Society, and the Expert Group on Resource Allocation and Financing in the Health Sector.

In the Universal Hospital Care Insurance system by 2016 everyone will have a choice of insurer - public or private. Insurers will purchase care from hospitals, which will compete to supply care. HSE-owned hospitals will become independent, not-for-profit foundations or trusts.

The only way to begin to fix a broken system is to begin by incentivising people to seek treatment in the primary care sector, where delivering that care is cheaper, and where it can be more effective.

Many people do not go to the doctor when they are ill because they cannot afford GPs' fees. The high cost of attending a GP pushes too many people towards treatment in the acute hospital system or makes them defer seeking care until their needs are acute. Under Labour's plan for Universal Health Insurance, everyone will have access to care in public and private hospitals on the same basis as the privately insured have now. It will be paid for much the same way as we pay for healthcare now: through Exchequer funding, and insurance premia, which are subsidised for those currently eligible for medical cards and low-income earners.


A full copy of the document is available at: http://labr.ie/eyf77K