More than half of the 1,000 Irish people with a personal health insurance policy will not get one by 2020.
That is despite the Government announcing on Thursday that it would spend €4 billion on universal health coverage.
A report from the Irish Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) found that more than half the Irish population will have no insurance by the end of 2020.
Source: IFPPR data The Government has been criticised for failing to set out what it would cost to ensure universal coverage for everyone by 2020 and has been accused of not providing a clear target to achieve.
“It’s an absolute catastrophe for the country,” said Dr Eoin O’Mahony, a lecturer in public policy at Trinity College Dublin.
“The government is the only party in the Government that has never come out and set out a plan for universal health care.
This is a huge, huge failure for the Irish people.”
“The fact that the Government doesn’t want to even say where the cost will be for universal coverage and the fact that it hasn’t even got a plan on the table is just utterly disgraceful.”
The Independent has learned that Irish health officials have warned that if universal coverage was not achieved by 2020, the country’s overall budget deficit would be double that of the United Kingdom, with the Government facing a deficit of more than €2 billion in 2021.
The Irish Government is facing a budget deficit of around €2.8 billion in 2019, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility.
Ireland’s health service has been in crisis since the Government last year slashed funding for services to protect public health.
With the budget deficit expected to double to almost €1 billion this year, the Government must rely on private insurers and private-sector providers to fill the gap.
Some of those who do have coverage could find themselves paying more out of pocket than the Government is willing to pay.
A report by the Irish Association of Medical Students, published earlier this month, found that while Irish insurance companies are expected to pay the bulk of the costs for health insurance policies, many of the same companies may not pay enough to cover the full cost of coverage.
In recent months, some health insurers have announced that they will stop providing coverage for people with private insurance and may stop paying premiums for people who do not have health insurance, raising the prospect of some Irish people being left without coverage.
The Irish Independent has contacted the Irish Ministry of Health and Social Protection for a comment.