The Irish healthcare system has long been criticised for a number of perceived weaknesses,
including access to healthcare based on ability-to-pay rather than need. Consequently, in
2011, a newly elected government committed to the development of a universal, singletier
system based on need and financed through Universal Health Insurance (UHI). This
article draws on the national and international evidence to identify the potential impact
of the proposed model on healthcare expenditure in Ireland. Despite a pledge that health
spending under UHI would be no greater than in the current predominantly tax-funded
model, the available evidence is suggestive that the proposed model involving competing
insurers would increase healthcare expenditure, in part due to an increase in administrative
costs and profits. As a result the proposed model of UHI appears to be no longer on the
political agenda. Although the Government has been criticised for abandoning its model of
UHI, it has done so based on national and international evidence about the relatively high
additional costs associated with this particular model.
The ESRI works towards a national vision of ‘Informed policy for a better Ireland’. This means producing high-quality analysis to provide robust evidence for policymaking, with the goals of research excellence and policy impact.
The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.