‘Up to 6,000’ people cancelling health insurance monthly

FF leader tells Dáil that Government policies are making people give up their cover

Up to 6,000 people are cancelling their private health insurance monthly, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has said. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Up to 6,000 people are cancelling their private health insurance monthly, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has said. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 13:14

Up to 6,000 people are cancelling their private health insurance monthly, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has said.

“By the end of this year, in two years alone, we estimate that about 140,000 people will have cancelled health insurance,’’ he added. “And the bottom line is that Government policies are driving people out of health insurance.’’

Speaking in the Dail today, Mr Martin said Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had signficantly reduced tax relief on health insurance policies in the budget which had a huge impact on many people. There was the additional €30 million bill flowing from the decision to charge patients with insurance using public hospital beds..

Today, said Mr Martin, it had been announced there would be an increase of about 15 per cent, adding that the increase for the average policy in two months was an estimated €400. He said the Government should change policy and reverse the budget decision.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was never an easy decision to draft budgets in an area like health, given the economic circumstances.

It seemed, he said, that Mr Martin had changed policy and was now advocating abandoning risk equualisation and commuinity rating.

Such a change would abandon older people to be manipulated by insurance companies because they, naturally, might have higher medical costs, Mr Kenny said.

“The clear objective of the Minister for Health is to reform this health service to deliver a single tier health service, and to do so in a way that allows for older people to be charged the same rate for the same policy as people who are a lot younger,’’ he added.