Health Committee to hold urgent hearings on spiralling cost of Health Insurance – Naughten

In Families, Health by Denis Naughten

 

Denis Naughten TD, has stated that Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children has agreed to hold a special meeting on 21st of February next on the issue of the spiralling cost of health insurance.

Today it has been disclosed that the VHI is again set to raise its premiums which will cost hard pressed young families up to a further

€350/year. As a result of recent changes to the structure of the risk equalisation levy on health insurance policies, from March some people on the most basic health insurance policies could be paying 55% of their premium into the risk equalisation fund, rather than for healt

According to Deputy Naughten; “news of health insurance rises are now coming as frequently as rainy days, and by March we will facing a situation where some consumers are paying more of their premium towards the health care costs of others than to meet their own needs. This is completely unsustainable, especially for families struggling to meet the existing health insurance premia. As the health insurance system in this country currently operates, it cannot survive without young people joining up, but there is little chance of this happening if they have to pay the majority of their premium towards the cost of insuring others.”h insurance cover itself.

Late last year Deputy Naughten proposed an alternative to the Minister for Health which would introduce a lifetime community rating measure on health insurance policies which will help to reduce the cost facing many families at present.

Deputy Naughten explained; “the proposal would see the Health Minister act upon legislation introduced in 2001 to facilitate lifetime community rating whereby if someone takes out health insurance later in life they pay more. Effectively, a 60 year old person who took out health insurance at 25 pays the same as a 25 year old but a 60 year old who took out health insurance at 55 would pay more to allow for the fact that he or she did not make the contributions when he or she was younger.”

“This proposal, which insurers and Health Insurance Authority believe is the only mechanism to reduce the cost of health insurance, must be implemented without delay by the Health Minister. Presently there is no incentive for a young person to take out health insurance other than a fear that he or she may get sick. The reality is that many think they will never get sick. The introduction of lifetime community rating would give young people an incentive to sign up and help reduce the cost of health insurance for everybody.”

It is estimated that 80,000 people left the health insurance system last year, mainly young families struggling to meet bills, due to the rapidly rising cost, while at the same time people over the age of 60 were signing up for health insurance.

“These trends clearly indicate that only those who rely on health insurance or are wealthy will remain within the health insurance system in the coming years unless immediate action is taken to curb the haemorrhage of young people out of the health insurance system, which forces up costs, pushing even more people back on a struggling public health system,” concluded Denis Naughten.