Ireland's unequal health care system: How did we let this happen?
Irelandís health care system is a deeply unequal two-tiered arrangement in which the privately insured receive swifter access to medical care than those without insurance. Health forms a core part of any welfare state and is key to the social contract. The purpose of this research is to examine what is taken for granted as core features of Irelandís health and welfare systems and look them from a perspective that considers the social contract as a substantial, socially supporting structure. This research asks; What is meant by a social contract? What is at stake when a social contract becomes a market contract? How does solidarity feature in a world where the human subject is transformed into an actor in a market?
Irish health care is bestrewn with significant moments that have had prolonged influence. Four particular cases in Irelandís health care history are examined in this research; The Mother & Child Scheme, The Blood Contamination Scandal, The Health Insurance Act and Susie Longís experience. What is particular about these four cases is their effectiveness as exemplary demonstrations of the subtle, yet significant, impact on society when the social contract is broken and when solidarity is eroded. For the purpose of this presentation just one of these cases will be presented in depth. This examination enables us to learn from the past and take seriously the need to take action to defend the social contract in the future.