What is Fine Gael’s FairCare Health Policy?

FairCare will completely reform the health service.

At the moment, the health service is a disaster – patients wait for months and sometimes years to access services, the system is hugely wasteful of resources and the service is fundamentally unfair because access is not based on medical need, but on the ability to pay.

FairCare tackles these problems by reducing costs, increasing access and making the system fairer.

  • The first thing FairCare will do is eliminate long waiting times by establishing a Special Delivery Unit (made up of clinicians and managers) that will assist and ensure hospitals meet targets. This model was used in Northern Ireland for some time and was very successful at reducing waiting times.
  • Fine Gael will also treat more patients (especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma) in the community in modern purpose built Primary Care Centres that have rooms for visiting consultants. This is better for the patient and will save money that can be reinvested in front line services. We will also make GP care more affordable in a number of ways, such as extending the number of GP Visit Cards. We will negotiate with insurers on extending coverage to GP care free at the point of delivery.
  • Finally, in 2016 we will introduce Universal Health Insurance (UHI), based on the successful Dutch model which will take a number of years to fully bed in . Every citizen will be entitled to health insurance, from one of a number of competing health insurance companies, that will give them timely and equal access to a comprehensive range of services. Once UHI is fully implemented free GP care will be available for everyone.

Once UHI is fully implemented Free GP Care will be available to everyone and the two-tier health system will end.

How is FairCare different from other Parties?

Fine Gael is the only Party with a plan to reform the health service.

  • Fianna Fáil’s policy is “more of the same” which will do nothing to tackle the two-tier system, end long waiting list or stop the chaos in A&E.
  • It is not clear what Labour’s policy is.

What is Universal Health Insurance?
UHI is a system that is used in almost every country in Europe to deliver fair and efficient health care.

UHI means that every citizen has health insurance from one of a number of competing health insurance companies that will entitle them to access to a comprehensive range of services that are safe, timely and efficient. Private health insurance holders can retain their existing private health insurance and change if they wish, as is their current entitlement. The State will pay for all children under 18, students and medical card holders. The remainder of the population (about 10%) will be heavily subsidised.

Can the country afford FairCare?

We cannot afford to continue with the current wasteful system.

Between 1997 and 2009, spending on the health service in Ireland increased by 400% to €15.9billion yet we’ve seen little improvement for this massive investment. We cannot continue to pour money into the HSE without seeing clear improvements in service. Fine Gael has estimated that it can save over €1bn by 2016 though a number of measures. This will involve the following:

Reducing management and bureaucracy: We will reduce HSE staff numbers by 8,000 through a combination of natural attrition and voluntary redundancies;

Chronic Disease Management: We will cut costs by transferring chronic disease management from hospitals to primary care which will save several hundred million annually;

Drug Costs: We will cut drug costs through various reforms such as reference pricing;

Hospitals: We will change the way hospitals are financed by introducing a “Money Follows the Patient” funding model which will save between 5% and 10% of hospital costs;

GP Costs: Fine Gael will open up GMS (General Medical Services) contracts to all suitably qualified doctors which will provide more GPs in local communities and drive down costs via competition.

What will FairCare mean for taxes and private health insurance premiums?

Taxes: Fine Gael is the low tax party. We have committed to no increase in income tax.

Premiums: Private Health Insurance premiums have spiralled out of control and Fine Gael will stop it. Fine Gael will reform the health insurance market by:

– Introducing risk-equalisation to help guarantee fair competition and to protect older people from unfair premium increases;

– Reducing the size of the VHI so that it no longer has a dominant market position. This will result in increased competition and reduced cost;

– Doubling the size of the health insurance market by introducing UHI. This will attract new entrants, thereby increasing competition and choice for customers.