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Private insurance here to stay despite Sláintecare — leading insurer

According to some authors of the report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, the successful roll-out of Sláintecare would mean a public health service of such quality and universal access that patients would not require private insurance.

However, the recent Private Hospitals Association conference heard from figures in the private sector who believed that private health insurance will still have a role.

“When you consider the challenges that we have in the system, there is no developed country that has a public-only system that works,” Mr Jim Dowdall, CEO of Irish Life Health, told the Medical Independent (MI).

“The best systems are ones that are a strong collaboration between the private and public system that do well together.

“So I think our concern is that we find an opportunity to actually start improving the quality of the system. It is clearly not operating at the standard it needs to today.

“The State will never be able to afford to fund the quality of healthcare required on its own so there will need to be collaboration with the private system. There will be opportunities for health insurers to provide access to benefits and that will be really important for both individuals and companies who contribute to the system.”

CEO of the RCPI Mr Leo Kearns, who also spoke at the conference, told MI that Sláintecare should be about “doing the right thing by patients”.

“From a patient perspective, wherever they can get access to the care they need, that is where they are going to look for it. So the challenge there for the public and private service is whether we are providing the kind of care people want and is needed. I think it is about turning the health system on its head and saying we design it around the patient, and not around the provider.”

He said health insurance companies “have to start thinking about what they are doing to incentivise the right kind of care”.   

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