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Table 1 Evolution of health care system and private health insurance in Ireland

From: The Interaction of Public and Private Health Insurance: Ireland as a Case Study

Date Health care structures Private health insurance
1957 All but top 15 per cent of earners have public entitlement to free care in public hospitals VHI Board established to cater for top 15 per cent of earners
1970 GMS established, those below income threshold entitled to free GP and prescription medicines  
1979 Universal eligibility for free public hospital care enacted  
1980   Percentage insured reaches 25 per cent
1987 Statutory charges for hospital care introduced for those above income threshold  
1991 Universal eligibility for specialist services (subject to charges)  
1992   EU Third Non-Life Insurance Directive
1994   Health Insurance Act opens up health insurance market to competition
   Health Insurance Regulations provide for risk equalization, lifetime cover, minimum benefits
1997   BUPA (Ireland) enters market
1999   White Paper on Private Health Insurance
2001 Publication of Quality and Fairness Health Strategy Establishment of Health Insurance Authority
2004   Vivas enters market
2005   Health Insurance Authority recommends risk equalization payments begin (June); Minister accepts recommendation (December)
2006   Legal challenge to risk equalization by BUPA; percentage insured c. 50 per cent