Leo Varadkar may change universal health insurance plan

Minister asks researchers to look at model offering different degrees of cover for patients

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is looking at other models of UHI such as single payer insurance, as well as a model funded fully through taxation using social insurance. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is looking at other models of UHI such as single payer insurance, as well as a model funded fully through taxation using social insurance. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is looking at major alternatives to the plans for universal health insurance (UHI) put forward last year by his predecessor James Reilly.

Mr Varadkar has sought new research looking, for example, at confining UHI to covering only hospitals and excluding drugs or primary care services.

UHI – which would seek to eliminate the country’s existing two-tier health system by effectively making everyone a private patient – is officially the Government’s healthcare reform blueprint. Under a White Paper published last year by Dr Reilly, the system was to involve a multi-payer model of competing private health insurers and a State-owned VHI.

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A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said the Minister had now asked researchers “to look at costing different degrees of cover for UHI, such as confining it to hospital care only, and not including drugs or primary care.

“For comparative purposes we have also asked the researchers to look at other models of UHI such as single payer insurance, as well as a model funded fully through taxation using social insurance. We are also trying to assess the actual cost of meeting unmet demand, because there is no point introducing a new system of health provision unless it satisfies unmet demand.

“The Minister will now sit down with the Taoiseach and the Cabinet subcommittee to discuss the best long-term approach to take regarding universal healthcare in light of the ongoing work. The intention is to finalise a road map this summer or early autumn.”