Reilly to strengthen private insurance regulation in new year
IMO’s GP committee say ‘no hope’ of free GP care for all by 2016
Minister for Health James Reilly said he would introduce legislation to further regulate the health insurance market to ensure it is ‘fair and transparent’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
Minister for Health James Reilly has said he will introduce legislation to further regulate the private insurance market in the new year.
Speaking on RTÉ radio today Dr Reilly said he would legislate “to empower the Health Insurance Authority as the regulator of the market to ensure that we have a fair and transparent market”.
Dr Reilly said there were “far too many” private health insurance plans on the market which were confusing for customers.
“The reason (they) try to confuse you in my view is so that you can’t make a valid and valued decision in relation to what is best for you and to me that’s not right and proper or appropriate,” he said.
“The Health Insurance agency needs to have its powers beefed up so that it can dictate to the market how many policies are allowed on the market at any one given time... I am determined that we will address this issue of the proliferation of plans in the new year in order to simplify things for the consumer.”
Dr Reilly also voiced his commitment that free GP care for all would be delivered by the next general election in early 2016.
“That’s absolutely the commitment of the Government,” he said. “I am absolutely committed to it, my Government are committed to it... that remains our goal, remains an absolute must to achieve,” he said.
Reacting to his comments, the GP committee of the Irish Medical Organisation has said there is “no hope” that free GP care for all will be achieved by 2016.
Committee chairman Dr Ray Walley said Dr Reilly’s commitment that free GP care would be implemented within the next two years was “Government by sound-bite”.
“The Department of Health have no plan to support this objective and no appreciation of the resources required to implement it,” he said.
“Politicians talk up free GP care as if it’s free for everyone but the reality is that people will still pay for their GP but will simply do so indirectly through their taxes or through an insurance scheme instead of directly as at present,” he added.