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2. How to Build a Fairer, More Equitable Healthcare System


Healthcare is a subject which invokes strong feelings and discussions. This is especially true when considering whether healthcare should be free for everyone. Some countries, such as the UK, have a free healthcare system under the NHS (National Health Service) — at least it is free at the point of delivery because it is paid for indirectly through national health insurance. However, currently the NHS is overwhelmed and many people opt for private healthcare to obtain care and treatment quickly. In Ireland, you pay for healthcare unless you are on a low income, in which case you would be qualified for a medical card.

So, the questions are:

  • What is a fair healthcare system?
  • Should healthcare be free for all?
  • Should we all have access to free health insurance?

How Can The Healthcare System Be Made Fairer?

Making healthcare fairer is not just about money. It also includes having the right services and the ability to make timely appointments and access the right kind of help and care. GP visits are generally the first port of call.

Getting a GP appointment when you need one is the primary concern for many people. Many GP surgeries are overwhelmed and the lack of appointments has a knock on effect on hospitals as people present at A&E if they cannot access a timely doctor’s appointment.

Regarding children and vulnerable individuals, many believe that healthcare and prescriptions for these groups should be free. For example, a GP visit for a minor in the Republic of Ireland is currently around €40 if they don’t qualify for a medical card. Obviously, this extra level of care and fairness costs money. If hospital managers and directors took pay cuts and decline their huge bonuses, then that money could be put back into hospital care. Having more doctors and nurses and other frontline staff in hospitals would be a step towards helping the already overwhelmed healthcare systems.

If people opt to pay for private medical insurance and care, it should be more affordable. There should be total transparency as to what is and is not covered under specific health plans as this has caused problems for people in the past.

World Health Day 2021 is highlighting how healthcare should be made fairer and more accessible. Governments worldwide should consider offering free or low-cost healthcare to their citizens so that no one is denied necessary medical care as and when they need it.