MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly is driving up the cost of health insurance policies and forcing families out of the market with a “dangerous” new policy, Fianna Fáil has warned.
The party’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher made the comments after today’s Sunday Business Post reported that Quinn Healthcare is set to increase customer premiums to cover the cost of the government levy on policies.
Kelleher said that the policy was creating a “vicious circle” where “up to 6,000 private health insurance policies are being abandoned, increasing pressure on the public hospital system, increasing waiting times for patients, and exposing a smaller client base of private insurers to further increases”.
The government announced on 4 January that the levy on health insurance policies would increase by 40 per cent. Two other health insurance companies – VHI and Aviva – said at the time that they would absorb the extra cost to stop premiums from increasing.
The head of the VHI Declan Moran had been broadly positive when the government announced it was increasing the levy, saying it was “a step in the right direction” which would help to ensure the marketplace is perfectly competitive.
Quinn Healthcare had given indications that it was considering increasing premiums, saying at the time that the levy increase would be “difficult to absorb”. The levy goes towards funding the healthcare costs of older customers.
Kelleher called on Reilly to halt the “dangerous” increase in the levy.
“The reality of the Government’s policy is that far from making health insurance universal it is actually making sure that people who have cover now cannot afford to renew their policy,” he said.
The levy was increased from €205 to €285 for adult customers and from €69 to €95 for under 18s.