Kenny: UHI 'will mean cheaper and better healthcare'
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted that the Government's proposed plans for Universal Health Insurance (UHI) will not mean extra costs for the public.
Under the proposals every citizen will have to be covered by private health insurance from 2019 which will be subsidised by the government.
Speaking at the launch this morning of a Governmentt white paper on the plans, Mr Kenny said the increased number of customers with health insurance will help to drive down the costs for everyone.
He insisted that the new system will mean cheaper and better healthcare services for everyone in Ireland.
"This with existing health insurance - and this is very important - will now for the first time have primary care services included," Mr Kenny said.
"Those on medical cards will continue to have access to services without the long waiting times.
"And those on lower incomes who can't afford insurance will be assisted by the State."
The white paper published by the Government today outlines the key elements of the new UHI system and how it will work, including:
- the model of UHI for Ireland, including the design of the new system,
- the package of services that will be covered,
- how it will be funded.
Health Minister James Reilly said its publication was "a key further step on the road to implementing Universal Health Insurance".
"This document sets out in significant detail Government plans around the introduction of Universal Health Insurance. It will lead to the most radical reform of our health services in decades and will result in a fairer, more effective health service," Minister Reilly said.
The Government says that under the UHI system all citizens will be insured and have a choice of health insurer; that everyone will have equal access to a standard package of services, based on need and not on ability to pay and that the State will pay or subsidise the cost of UHI premiums for those who qualify.
Various protections will apply in the case of those purchasing UHI policies, including open enrolment, lifetime cover and community rating.
Additionally, health insurers may not sell insurance that provides faster access to services covered by UHI, and healthcare providers supplying care under UHI may not sell faster access to services covered by UHI.
Today's white paper publication also marks the beginning of an eight-week consultation process with a call for submissions from the public and key stakeholders.