Insurers might have to raise as much as €2.4 billion in fresh capital in order to operate a Universal Health Insurance (UHI) system, according to the Society of Actuaries in Ireland.

In its response to the Government's recently-published white paper on UHI the society says the amount of capital required to be held by insurers could be between €1.6 billion and €2.4 billion.

"The Society stresses this hypothetical range should not be interpreted as an accurate estimate - the intent is to highlight the possible scale of the capital requirements involved in introducing UHI into Ireland," it said,

It also points out that, in practice, the cost of this additional capital would be borne by consumers through their premiums and warns that the package of services to be covered by any compulsory insurance system should not be used "inappropriately as a mechanism to transfer costs from central health spending to the insurance sector and hence to insurance premiums".