Universal health insurance bill ‘an impossible burden’

Universal health insurance could cost €3,600 a year for an average family, opponents have warned.

The trade union’s Louise O’Donnell told the McGill summer school that the estimation was based on figures announced by former health minister James Reilly, that the basic Universal Health Insurance package would be €900 per person.

Ms O’Donnell warned the heaviest financial burden would fall on families currently without health insurance or a medical card.

Previously, Impact said Mr Reilly was “optimistic” to estimate that Universal Health Insurance would cost €900 per individual.

“Even if the seemingly optimistic official price estimate of around €900 per individual — including children — is correct, it will place an impossible financial burden on families and individuals,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“A family of four, which currently has no health insurance because they can’t afford it, could end up with a bill of €3,600 a year,” she warned.

What will be covered by the basic package was also a cause for concern, as the €100 fee for attending A&E was expected to stay, Ms O’Donnell said.

Outlining what happened in the Netherlands under a similar system, she said: “The costs to the taxpayer and users increased, while the basket of services covered by the basic package shrank. Most Dutch take out additional insurance to cover elder care, dental, and allied health services.”

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin also called for a change in direction by the Government as insurance costs for families would be too high under the present proposals.

“I believe the approach of the Government is flawed as it should not be focussing on universal health insurance, but universal health care.”

Mr Ó Caoláin said the proposed system would see money going to the shareholders of insurance companies, when all available resources should go to health care instead.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Leo Varadkar declined to comment last night.


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