Health should be funding priority, says the public

Maria Walsh, Pfizer Health Index 2017 ambassador. Picture: Conor Healy

The Irish public view health as the greatest priority for state funding.

But a health index study suggests that 1.2m people do not have private medical insurance or a medical card. That’s a quarter of the population.

The Pfizer Health Index, a national study of health and wellness, showed health funding was highest on the list of priorities for respondents.

Òf the 1,000 people surveyed, 63% they rate their health as eight out of 10 or higher, with 14% giving their health a score of 10 out of 10.

The key personal priorities of Irish people continue to be family health and well-being, personal health, and financial health.

However, despite priorities, 26% of those surveyed said they have neither private medical insurance nor a medical card. The volume of people who hold a medical card dropped slightly, from 43% last year to 42% in 2017.

The numbers of medical-card holders in Ireland first began to increase in 2010, but they remain at the levels of recessionary years.

Engagement with medical professions is relatively high, with 30% of those surveyed having visited their GP in the last month, and 41% having attended a screening in the last year.

In terms of public priorities for government spending, health was greatest, at 75%, followed by education, 50%, and job creation at , 30%.

Each year, the Pfizer Health Index focuses on a particular topic and 2017 examined attitudes to health in the workplace.

It found that 80% of Irish workers feel they have a good work/life balance, and 88% of people find the content of their job interesting. Most have a good relationship with colleagues, while the average number of sick days per year is 3.56.

Workplace stress was found to be an issue, with 62% reporting moderately to very stressful work environments.

The majority of people (75%) have never discussed a health issue with their employer, citing a lack of the employer’s understanding or ability to support them.

Of those who did speak to an employer about health matters, the vast majority, 80%, found the response to be good or excellent.


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