Tuesday, 12 July 2022
Department of Health
General Practitioner Services
868. To ask the Minister for Health the estimated cost of extending the general practitioner visit card only to an additional 50,000 persons, 100,000 persons and 250,000 persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37400/22]
872. To ask the Minister for Health further to a Dáil Éireann debate on 1 July 2022, on the estimated cost of delivering free general practitioners care to all citizens and the estimated cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37404/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 867, 868 and 872 together.
GMS contractors receive a range of capitation rates, fee per service payments and practice supports. The cost of GP visit and medical cards varies significantly with the age of the cardholder. Cost calculations require complex and detailed modelling exercises to account for a range of demographic changes, future projections of service demands and variation in the number of GPs and the allowances that could be paid.
Consultations with the IMO, representing GPs, would be held prior to expansions of GP visit card eligibility and would include discussions on the scope of services to be provided and the rate of fees payable to GPs for the provision of the services.
For these reasons, it is not possible to give the actual cost of extending GP care without fees to further cohorts or to large set numbers of persons. However, the 2019 IGEES paper Costing Framework for the Expansion of GP Care provides a cost estimate for expanding GP care without charges to all children aged 12 years and under and for universal free GP care. The 2018 ESRI study Universal GP care in Ireland: Potential Cost Implicationsalso provides a cost estimate for universal free GP care.
Department of Health IGEES staff are currently working on possible options for expanding eligibility to GP care on a phased basis. This analysis includes consideration of costs, demographics, demand and GP capacity.