Fine Gael’s healthcare policy is an exercise in major deception

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Fine Gael’s healthcare policy is an exercise in deception

The ‘Dutch model’ they promote is two tiered contrary to Fine Gael claims

€1.2 billion in profit made by Dutch private health insurers in 2009 and €38 million wasted on advertising

Speaking at today’s press conference Conor Mac Liam, health campaigner and Socialist Party/ULA candidate for Carlow Kilkenny and husband of the late Susie Long commented:

“The Fine Gael ‘Faircare’ policy is a cynical exercise in deception. Their response to our existing disaster of a hybrid healthcare system is to go the whole hog with privatisation.

“People are desperate for a system that is affordable and reliable. I am horrified at Fine Gael’s attempt to turn the healthcare crisis into an opportunity to line the pockets of private healthcare companies.

“People need to know that the claims made by James Reilly about the Dutch healthcare system which adopted the compulsory private health insurance policy in 2006 are false. Specifically:

  • Contrary to Fine Gael claims the Dutch system is a two tier system with the private healthcare providers offering a level of superior cover for in excess of €3,000 per annum for a single person compared to the basic packages that come in at around €1,200 per annum depending on which of the 60 companies you choose! You are not fully covered if you have chronic conditions. 62,000 people downgraded their level of cover last year in the Netherlands because their personal financial circumstances changed.
  • €1.2 billion was made in profits by private insurers in the Netherlands in 2009 and the competing firms spent €38 million in advertising. Taking this and the duplication of administrative functions among the 60 firms these are obscene amounts of money that should be spent directly on healthcare
  • The pressure for profit leads to insurance firms pressurising hospitals with whom they sign referral contracts to cuts costs through employing less qualified staff and skimp on preventative care and after care which falls outside the strict terms of the insurance policies

Seamus O’Brien, People Before Profit and United Left Alliance candidate for Wexford and organiser of the Save Wexford General Hospital Campaign also commented: 

“Over the past two years a systematic campaign had been waged against public hospitals, cynically dressed up as an attempt to improve care for patients. Public hospitals that once provided top-class care to their communities are now being reduced to medical outposts. This has nothing to do with patient care; it is about developing a privatised system of healthcare.

“As many as 1,200 beds have already been closed this year and the Government is actively looking to the private sector to replace these beds. All services for particular diseases, such as cancer are being bundled together into “integrated? packages which will than be sold on the open market. Already Ireland’s two-tier healthcare system means that it has one of the most unequal healthcare systems in Europe. The only way that this can change is if we abandon private models of healthcare and create a free, publicly funded, universal healthcare system.

“Achieving that will require a struggle linking up hospital campaigns and health workers in a movement of people power protest in the months and years ahead. The ULA will be at the heart of that movement

Joe Higgins MEP, Socialist Party/United Left Alliance candidate for Dublin West added:

“The only thing that James Reilly has got right is that the present system needs to be scrapped. However we draw diametrically opposite conclusions as to what it needs to be replaced with.

“We have already seen the turmoil created by having several private firms in the sector competing for market share and seeking advantage over each other by trying to build their client base among the relatively healthy and excluding those who depend most on healthcare, especially the elderly.

“No amount of external regulation or ‘equalisation’ of risk can cut across the competitive drive for profits and dividends, every euro of which is a euro taken away from direct healthcare provision.

“Our alternative is simple. A single tiered democratically run universal healthcare system funded by progressive taxation and free at the point of use.

“The public administration of health in this country needs to change beginning with a clear out of the top brass in the HSE and reductions at higher management level. The bulk of the 8,000 people Fine Gael want to get rid of however are administrators who could play an essential role in the fully public system we advocate.?

Cllr. Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit and United Left Alliance candidate for Dun Laoghaire commented:

“Fine Gael’s proposal to force everyone into the Private Health Insurance market would be a disaster. Costs would skyrocket through billing, marketing, profits, legal and accounting fees and massive executive salaries and bonuses as well as the duplication and distortion caused by organising care on the basis of money rather than medical need.

“Instead of markets, we need a National Health Service that is universal, comprehensive, democratically planned, funded by progressive taxation and free at the point of use. Universal healthcare also needs democratically elected Community Health Councils to ensure profiteering or political corruption do not get in the way of well-planned Health services.?