Health insurance - More is needed

IN A country with a stretched and sometimes chaotic health system, private health insurance is almost mandatory for those who can afford it.

This situation is far from ideal and has created an unfair two-tier health system; if you can pay you get immediate attention, if not you join a queue that will test your reserves of patience — if you don’t die first.

Yesterday’s announcement by the country’s largest health insurer, VHI, that it is to reduce the cost of several popular products and freeze the cost of others is welcome, but it must be set against the increases of recent years, up to 50% in some instances — and the preposterous €1,000-a-night hospital bed.

Meeting health service expectations is one of the greatest challenges facing nearly all western democracies.

Costs and demand always escalate and very few governments are confident enough to increase taxes to balance the books.

We need a new way of funding a universal and effective heath service, but then we’ve known that for decades.

Plus ça change.

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