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"Ireland’s Health Care System: Some Issues and Challenges"


"Ireland’s Health Care System: Some Issues and Challenges"

By Anne Nolan and Brian Nolan, ESRI.
Press Release Embargoed until 00:01 hours, Tuesday 12th October 2004

How does Ireland’s healthcare system perform compared to other rich countries? What challenges does it face as it seeks to improve performance?

New research by the ESRI, benchmarking Ireland against other rich countries, shows that:

  • Ireland ranks 20th out of 22 countries ahead only of the USA.
  • The share of national income spent on health by Ireland is about average
  • In most EU countries poor people visit the doctor more often than those who are better off, but this difference is larger in Ireland. This reflects the gap between those with medical cards entitling them to free GP care and those who have to pay. Even if the better health of the well off is taken into account, those who have to pay for GP visits go less often. This holds not only just above the income threshold for medical card entitlement but also at higher incomes.

The authors also examine equity and efficiency issues arising from the unique role which private health insurance plays in the Irish healthcare system.

  • Much of “private” hospital care is delivered in public hospitals. This gives rise to concerns about a “two-tier” system and about undesirable incentives for medical consultants and hospital managers.
  • These concerns have been exacerbated by the rapid rise in numbers insured, about half the population now has private health insurance. In this regard Ireland is unique compared with other EU countries, and it fundamentally changes the political context for structural reform.

These and other issues and challenges facing Ireland’s healthcare system will be presented in a paper by Anne Nolan and Brian Nolan (ESRI) at the “Budget Perspectives Conference”, co-hosted by The Economic and Social Research Institute and the Foundation for Fiscal Studies. Members of the Press are invited to attend the Conference which will take place on Tuesday, 12th October, 2004, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilton Dublin Hotel, Charlemont Place, Dublin 2.

For further details on this paper contact Brian Nolan at 01 6671525, or by email at brian.Nolan@esri.ie. For details of the Conference, visit our web site at www.esri.ie.

This Press Release is embargoed until 00:01 hours, Tuesday 12th October 2004