75% of GPs in Cork registered for free under 6 care – Buttimer

Free GP Care for children under 6 - 00125th June 2015

The high rate of registration by GPs in Cork to deliver free care to children under 6 will benefit children and families across the county. Over 75% of GPs have signed up for this scheme which is part of the process of rolling out universal health care. I would encourage parents to sign up for this scheme at www.gpvisitcard.ie.

As well as high registration from GPs a large number of children are already signed up. Over 54,000 children have been registered for free GP care which begins on July 1st. It is great to see that parents are registering their children for free GP care in such high numbers.

With the implementation of free GP care for under-6s, we are taking another important step on the road to universal healthcare. This follows the recent agreement on free GP care for over-70s. These measures will help ensure good quality primary care for the youngest and oldest in our society. It is best, where possible, to identify and treat illnesses locally, either in your local doctor’s surgery or primary care centre. By improving primary care we aim to reduce the demand on our hospitals which are under extreme pressure.

All children under-6 will benefit from the new enhanced service including age-based preventive checks focused on health and wellbeing and the prevention of disease. For children diagnosed with asthma doctors will carry out an annual review of each child where asthma has been diagnosed.

Posted under Carrigaline, Children & Youth Affairs, Cork, Cork City, Douglas, Health

Parliamentary Question: Health Insurance

Question to the Minister for Health (Dr. Leo Varadkar, TD)

To ask the Minister for Health regarding persons returning from overseas or moving to Ireland for the first time who seek to take out private health insurance, if he will introduce measures to require health insurers to recognise health insurance cover held outside of Ireland by providers not registered here; where such policies have been held, if he will provide for an exemption from waiting periods for pre-existing conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on 18, June, 2015.

REPLY

Periods of cover on health insurance plans held outside the State are not taken into account for the purposes of waiting periods, as such plans do not comply with health insurance legislation or the key principles of community rating, open enrolment, lifetime cover and minimum benefit on which the Irish private health insurance regulatory system is based. Therefore, I do not intend to introduce measures to require health insurers to recognise health insurance cover held outside of Ireland by providers not registered here.

Community rating, reflecting the principle of intergenerational solidarity, is a fundamental cornerstone of the Irish health insurance system. This means that people who are old or sick do not have to pay more than the young and healthy, whereas in other health insurance systems the level of risk than an individual presents directly affects the premium paid. Thus, different health insurance systems are not directly comparable or related, so periods of cover or time served are not interchangeable between them.

When an individual takes out health insurance for the first time in this country, whether already a resident or a person who previously lived abroad, they may have to serve waiting periods before they are fully covered, but accident and injury will be covered immediately. The application of waiting periods, including those for pre-existing conditions, helps to support community rating and is an important tool for insurers to combat practices where someone could potentially take out a health insurance policy to avail of a particular treatment and then cancel the policy once treatment had been received, without either penalty or sustained contribution to the community-rated system.

For this reason, I do not intend to introduce an exemption from waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, as to do so would only increase the likelihood of claims being made without any contribution to our community-rated system, which in turn would result in increased costs and ultimately higher premium prices for all.

Posted under Health, Parliamentary Questions

Parliamentary Question: Medical Card Administration

Question to the Minister for Health (Dr. Leo Varadkar, TD)

To ask the Minister for Health when he expects the Health (General Practitioner Services) Bill 2015 to complete its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas; when the roll-out of general practitioner visit cards to all those over 70 years of age will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on 16, June, 2015.

REPLY

The Health (General Practitioner Services) Bill 2015 has completed all stages in the Dáil and is scheduled to shortly complete its passage through the Seanad. After the legislation has been enacted all persons over 70 years who are ordinarily resident that do not currently have a medical card or GP visit card will be able to start registering for the GP service without fees in late July and the service will be made available in early August.

Posted under Health, Parliamentary Questions, Social Protection