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Health insurers call for levy to be scrapped for children's policies

Representatives from all four health insurers told an Oireachtas committee it could help to save a struggling industry.

Jim Dowdall of GloHealth told an Oireachtas committee that a levy on health insurance policies for children should be removed.
Jim Dowdall of GloHealth told an Oireachtas committee that a levy on health insurance policies for children should be removed.

THE HEADS of some of Ireland’s health insurance companies have called on the government to scrap a levy on health insurance policies for children, which is aimed at helping to cover the more expensive cost of covering older clients.

Representatives from VHI, Aviva, Laya Healthcare and GloHealth told an Oireachtas committee that removing the levy would help to encourage some people to renew their previous policies, or maintain their current ones, at a time when the industry was in decline.

A full ‘risk equalisation scheme’ is due to come into effect in January, where older people will be able to reduce the price of their health insurance thanks to a series of tax credits.

These credits are funded by levies payable by the insurers themselves – and though some insurers have pledged to absorb the levy themselves, the moves ultimately mean costs increase for customers to some degree.

This levy currently stands at €285 per adult and €95 per child – but this morning insurers said the levy on policies for children should be cut.

Jim Dowdall of GloHealth said it was vital that younger people be encouraged to keep private health cover, while Donal Clancy of Leya said the levy on children’s policies amounted to a disincentive for familes.

He added that the current situation –  where the numbers covered by private policies – created a vicious circle where people were discontinuing their private cover entirely.

This was making it more expensive to cover those who remained in the system, which in turn meant the price of policies would have to go up – in turn, forcing more people out of the system.

The latest figures from the Health Insurance Authority showed that 2,123,000 people were covered by inpatient health insurance as of the end of June – down by 61,000 people compared to the same time a year previously.

Read: VHI prices set to rise next month

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Gavan Reilly

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