Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act in the US which was advocated for and signed into law by President Obama may be about to cross the Atlantic.
A report carried in the Irish Times today states that Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly and his Department officials have drawn up a White Paper on Universal Health Insurance (UHI).
Everyone in the country would be required to have private health insurance for at least a standard level of cover by one of a number of competing insurance companies.
Obamacare in the US has a similar requirement. Citizens there are required to buy health insurance from health insurance exchanges.
Under the Irish proposals, those who refuse to buy mandatory cover for a basic package would have the costs deducted from their earnings or benefits.
Obamacare has a similar provision where individuals who do not buy health insurance must pay a penalty.
Under the Irish proposals, citizens could also buy supplementary health cover for items not covered by the standard package, such as private rooms in hospitals.
Again, this is similar to Obamacare.
The exact composition of the standard package for Irish citizens will not be determined until after a comprehensive consultation process.
Generally, Ireland comes in middle-of-the-road in health insurance expenditure both on an absolute basis and PPP basis as well as out-of-pocket expenses within the OECD. However, these are based on 2011 figures, the most recent data set available from the OECD.
Private health insurance costs across Ireland have surged since 2012. In recent weeks, some of the largest health insurance companies have announced price rises of 20% or more on some popular plans.