This Bill aims to raise £3½ million extra, a tiny fraction of the cost of the health services. The Minister said it is a mere 10 per cent of the cost of providing limited eligibility classes and their dependants with hospital and specialist services, maternity and infant care services as well as drug subsidy. This £3½ million represents less than 3 per cent of the total hospital and specialist services cost. The sum for which the Minister is asking is so tiny that I cannot understand why he is asking for it. I cannot understand why he should think fit to burden the working classes with this weekly imposition. It is an unfair burden in these days of rising prices. It is unfair for many reasons. What is not obvious is the fact that the upper income group are actually having their hospital costs subsidised by the State, subsidised by those who will have to bear this burden of a health contribution. To me, this is deplorable.
Is the Minister aware that the cost of a hospital bed to a person in the upper income group bears no relation whatever to the actual cost to the State of such a bed? I will give a concrete example: the weekly cost to the State of a bed for a patient in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin was £109 last year. This year it must be very much more. A private patient in the upper income group pays a mere £35 to £45 a week for the same bed. The upper income group patient is subsidised to the tune of nearly £70 per week. That is something we do not seem to realise. I go so far as to say that the middle income group patient is subsidising the upper income group patient under our present system of health services. This is quite wrong socially.
Who is subsidising whom? We are talking about subsidising the middle and lower income groups, but actually the reverse is happening. The Minister and his Department obviously approve of this inverted socialism.