The vision of Sláintecare is to achieve a universal single-tier health and social care system where everyone has equitable access to services based on need and not ability to pay. In its report, the Houses of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare called for a universal health system accessible to all on the basis of need, free at the point of delivery (or at the lowest possible cost) . Over time, the vision is that everyone will have entitlement to a comprehensive range of primary, acute and social care services at no cost or at a substantially reduced cost and that the vast majority of this care will be provided in primary and community settings.
Within the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy, Strategic Action 6 aims to expand eligibility on a phased basis to move towards universal healthcare and support a shift to community-based care. The vision is that all citizens will have universal access to healthcare, in both the acute and community settings. In order to achieve this goal, there will need to be an expansion in eligibility, particularly for primary and community care. Although there is wide-ranging agreement that Ireland should move in the direction of a universal single-tier health service, there is also widespread acknowledgement that this goal presents a number of challenges.
As detailed in the Sláintecare Action Plan for 2019, the department is currently reviewing the basis for existing hospital and medication charges and it is anticipated that the review will be finalised shortly. By the end of 2019, the Department will seek to develop options for future changes to hospital and medication charges and develop policy options for achieving universal eligibility.