154,959 registered members
Concern over extension of free GP care
[Posted: Wed 28/09/2011 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
The Irish Patients Association (IPA) says it will cost an additional €844 million per annum to extend free GP care to the entire population, as is proposed under Health Minister James Reilly's universal health insurance plans.
According to a new report from the IPA, this would exclude the cost of drugs under the extension of free GP care to the entire population.
The report says if fees for currently private patients transferring to the new universal scheme were reduced by 30%, the cost would drop to €591 million.
The report queries where the money will be found for free GP care for everyone at the point of access and who would end up paying for this.
The IPA warns that should current private patients converting to the new universal system develop similar visiting patterns to current medical card patients, the primary care system could collapse as the workload on the system would increase on existing GPs by around 150%.
The IPA says it is unlikely thst existing levels of GP reimbustement under the medical card scheme could be applied to currently private patients.
The IPA report also shows that the average GP income from the medical card scheme is highest in Co. Donegal, at €297,176, and lowest in Kildare/South Wickow, at €173,351. The national average GP income from the medical card scheme is €212,950, according to 2009 figures.
In a commentary on the report, economist Prof Ray Kinsella said the medical card scheme as it exists was already operating under significant strains, with the number of people getting medical cards increasing considerably in recent years.
He also points out that medical card GP services for patients have suffered as a result of recent major GP fee cuts.
There had been an additional demand for services in the medical card scheme at a time of significant cutbacks in the service, according to Prof Kinsella.
The IPA said GPs should receive incentives for treating particular types of patients.
According to Stephen Mc Mahon of the IPA, a planned new GP contract should provide incentives to doctors to care more intensively for patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma. This would significantly reduce pressure on the hospital system.
|To join the discussion, register by clicking here|