GPs warn on plans for universal health cover

Doctors say Government proposal will raise inequality and remove choice

GPs believe the Government’s proposals for universal health insurance will reduce choice and increase inequality.

GPs believe the Government’s proposals for universal health insurance will reduce choice and increase inequality.

 

GPs have criticised the Government’s plan for Universal Health Insurance, saying it will reduce patient choice and “do more harm than good”.

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) says the plan will result in fragmentation in the health service and greater inequality affecting poor and rural patients.

In a submission to the Government’s public consultation on the White Paper on UHI, the ICGP calls for more debate and analysis before further action is taken.

“If progressed, this ‘reform’ will result in more fragmentation of health services, where patients will lose choice, control and personalised healthcare,” Dr Tony Cox, ICGP president, said.

The college says it supports reform of the health system and universal access to healthcare based on need, not ability to pay, but not the UHI-based system proposed by the Government to fund the reform.

Dr Darach Ó Ciardha, ICGP chair of communications, said: “If the White Paper is adopted as drafted, this ‘most radical reform of our health system,’ while positive in its aspiration to equalise access to healthcare, has the potential to do more harm than good across the Irish health system and particularly in primary care.”

He said the Government’s handling of the proposal for free GP care for under-6s and the removal of discretionary medical cards showed the disparity between planning and delivery of policies.

In its submission, the ICGP says patients are being asked to sign up for a service which will offer limited provider choice for an unknown basket of services.GPs will be “hamstrung” in the choices of care available based on “the requirements of profit-driven institutions”.

The ICGP claims the introduction of proposed new regulatory roles for the Department of Health and the Health Information and Quality Authority would lead to an over-concentration of authority over health direction in an untested regulatory structure.