The introduction of a new type of health service in Ireland - operated on the basis of a universal health insurance, should be completed by 2016.
The Department of Health has detailed the steps it plans to take in the nest 3 years - and how the new system will work.
Under universal health insurance every person will be insured for a standard package of services. It will be mandatory for people to have insurance - but people will have the ability to choose their insurer.
Queue-jumping will not be allowed under the new system.
Insurers nor providers operating within the universal health insurance system will not be allowed to sell faster access to services covered by the universal health insurance standard of care.
It is not clear yet exactly what services will be covered under the " standard package " - so it looks like for non standard services it may still be possible to jump the queue .
The DOH say that the universal health insurance system will involve multiple insurance funds and will be based on community rating and risk equalisation.
Community rating is the principle that that all insured persons pay the same amount for similar products regardless of their age or risk status.
Risk equalisation allows for insurance companies with larger numbers of older subscribers – who are considered to be a greater risk of making claims – to receive money to compensate them from rival companies with younger profiles.
The current health insurance regulator, the Health Insurance Authority, will be replaced with a new body, the Insurance Fund.
The Department of Health expects that all the legislative and operational groundwork for the introduction of universal health insurance will be completed by 2016.
A key element of the health reforms is the provision of free primary care services. It has already been announced that from this year free access to GP care will be extended to people covered by the long-term illness scheme.
Between now an 2016 , the aim will be for a phased expansion to the remainder of the population until universal coverage is achieved.