Health Minister Leo Varadkar is to bring a memo to cabinet today ruling out the original Universal Health Insurance model.

It had been estimated the average annual premium for a UHI package, before any subsidy, comprising GP care, hospital care, and mental health care would be €2,228 for adults and €773 for children.

The actual cost to individuals would depend on the level of subsidy provided by the State.

A generous subsidy system in which the State paid in full for all medical card and GP visit card holders, all children, plus a subsidised cap to ensure no-one would pay a premium of over €1,200, would cost the exchequer €6.3bn each year.

Mr Varadkar has decided to carry out further research on alternative models of universal healthcare.

The minister said recently: “Discussing funding and how it might be raised in advance of deciding what sort of health service you actually want is, in my view, really a case of putting the cart before the horse.

“The vision must come first. And that vision should be patient centred, about access and outcomes for patients, not a vision centred on funding models.”

The Programme for Government had promised UHI by 2016.

But this plan was slowed down when Mr Varadkar took office and instead he switched the Government’s short term focus to universal primary care.

Last week, Mr Varadkar said that it would have been wrong to introduce UHI during the financial crisis as “neither the exchequer nor families would have been able to bear the considerable additional cost in terms of subsidies or increased insurance premia.”

by Elaine Loughlin – Irish Examiner