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Brian Lawless/PA
Health Insurance

Reilly: Consumers can opt for cheaper policies to avoid impact of tax relief cap

However Minister James Reilly said it is important that they fully understand the level of cover their policy provides.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has said that consumers can make savings on their health insurance in 2014 by reviewing their level of cover, as a cap on tax relief for private cover will mean rising costs for some.

The cap on tax relief on premiums for private health insurance was introduced in October last year as part of Budget 2014.

Tax relief for medical insurance premiums is now restricted to the first €1,000 per adult and the first €500 per child insured. Any portion of premium paid in excess of these ceilings will no longer qualify for tax relief. The measure is projected to save the Exchequer €94 million in 2014 and €127 million in a full year.

In response to a parliamentary question, Reilly said this would affect some consumers, including those over the age of 50, as it has been suggested that they will be disproportionately affected.

“While individuals can of course opt for less expensive policies and therefore avoid the impact of this measure, it is important that they fully understand the level of cover their policy provides,” he said.

“Many consumers can make savings on their health insurance premiums by reviewing the level of cover to ensure that their needs are being met, without being over-insured.”

Rising cost

Speaking about health insurance generally, Minister Reilly said he has “consistently emphasised the vital need to address the rising cost of private health insurance and the necessity for all private health insurers to address their cost base aggressively”.

He said the second phase of a review process to achieve reductions in the market is will report by March.

“I will continue to focus on addressing costs in the private health insurance market, to keep insurance as affordable as possible for people who wish to avail of private health insurance,” he said. “The government’s clear objective is for the health insurance market to remain as competitive and affordable as possible, as we move towards a new system of Universal Health Insurance.”

The number of people with private health insurance has been dropping steadily over the last year, falling by 62,000 in 12 months. Just over 45 per cent of the population now has inpatient health insurance coverage.

Read: Aviva health insurance to increase its premiums by 5.2%>

Read: Number of people with private health insurance drops (again)>

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