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Varadkar publishes health insurance bill

By Mindo - 02nd Nov 2015 | 4 views

The aim is to sustain community rating in the health insurance market so that older citizens and people with illnesses can afford health insurance and are not discriminated against in favour of younger healthier people.

The revised rates were recommended by the Health Insurance Authority and will take effect from next March. The Bill is expected to be enacted by the Oireachtas before the end of the year.

Minister Varadkar said: “The number of people with health insurance has grown by more than 100,000 over the last 12 months due to reforms introduced by the Government including young adult discounts, lifetime community rating and reduced stamp duty and levies.

“We have ended the cycle of double-digit increases in premiums. We need to continue to ensure that health insurance remains affordable for as many people as possible. I am pleased to confirm that the levy on lower-level products will now be reduced by €38 per adult and €13 per child. There will be a slight increase of €4 for advanced products for adults but this will fall for children.”

He said the bill increases the age credits for those aged 70-plus and sets age credits at zero for the 60-64 age group. “This strikes a fair balance between the need to sustain community rating by keeping health insurance affordable for older, less healthy consumers, and ensuring that the market remains sustainable by keeping younger healthier consumers in health insurance.

“One of the main reasons we took the decision to set credits at zero for those aged under 65, is because maintaining credits for this age group would have increased the stamp duty by approximately €34 for every single person holding health insurance.”

Commenting on the extension of utilisation credits to day cases, the Minister said: “Thirty per cent of hospital in-patient activity for insured members is now carried out on a day case basis, so extending RE credits to this setting is an appropriate scheme enhancement reflecting the individual’s health status. This will target support to insurers who have less healthy members of all ages. It will also incentivise hospitals and insurers to do more day case work instead of admitting patients the night before and using a hospital bed unnecessarily.”

The Risk Equalisation Scheme has operated in the health insurance market since 1 January 2013 to compensate for the additional cost of insuring older and less healthy members. Under the Scheme, insurers receive risk equalisation credits from the Risk Equalisation Fund.

The credits are funded by stamp duty levies payable by open market insurers for each policy written.

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