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Speaking of health inequality April 27, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

John McManus in the IT today has a bleak piece asking ‘are we about to bail out the private hospitals’. Well worth a read for a sense of the thinking (or lack of same) in this state that has led to such pernicious outcomes as evidenced in the statistics showing the disparities for treatment times between public and private patients.

Over the last 20 years or more, a huge, privately-owned health infrastructure was built up in Ireland, with government encouragement. The main boost came via tax breaks, the most significant being income tax relief on private health insurance premiums.
Irish health spending is very close to the European average but, unlike most of our peers, one-third of it is channelled through the private healthcare system. The thinking behind all this – if there really was any – was that the private sector would deliver hospital care more efficiently and that better-off people could pay for it via health insurance rather than making everybody pay more tax. It was liberal market economics at its best or worst, depending on your perspective.

And now the private hospitals (which as McManus notes are commercial entity first and foremost whose purpose is ‘to make money’) are suggesting public- private initiatives ‘to help reduce waiting lists’:

…we seem to be heading back into something resembling bank bailout territory – the sort of place capitalists like to go when things go wrong. By signing up to a five-year deal to utilise the spare capacity of the private sector, the State will be protecting the private hospitals from the full consequences of their bad investment decisions and, in effect, bailing them out.

This is the other side of yesterday’s statistics where a system distorted from the off, putting financial aspects ahead of medical need, becomes ever more distorted and now attempts to feed of the distortions its very existence generates.


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