Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (260)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

260. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the estimated cost to the State of the introduction of free general practitioner care for all citizens. [45501/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service within its term of office, as set out in the Programme for Government and the Future Health strategy framework. As announced in the Budget, it has been decided to commence the roll-out of a universal GP service by providing all children aged 5 and under with access to a GP service without fees. This will mean that almost half of the population will have access to GP services without fees. The Government is providing new, additional funding of €37 million to meet the cost of this measure.

The introduction of a universal GP service constitutes a fundamental element in the Government's health reform programme. The current Government is the first in the history of the State to have committed itself to implementing a universal GP service for the entire population. A well functioning health system should provide equal access to healthcare for its patients on the basis of health needs, rather than ability to pay. The principles of universality and equity of access mean that all residents in Ireland should be entitled to access a GP services that is free at the point of use. The additional cost of providing access to GP services without fees for the entire population, based on current rates of payments to GPs, is estimated to be between €330 million and €365 million.