Fianna Fáil deputy Seamus Kirk has criticised the 40 per cent increase in the levy on health insurance policies, describing it as a direct attack on families who are already struggling meet their financial commitments.
“This is an extraordinary increase,” he said, “one which I believe will result in higher health insurance premiums for families.
“It is difficult to see how insurers will be able to absorb an increase on this scale in the longer term. Ultimately these costs will be borne by customers.
“If this increase was applied directly to policies, a couple with two children would be facing an increase in their health insurance that amounts to more than double the cost of the Household Charge that they are now also being forced to pay. The cost of private health insurance has already gone beyond the reach of thousands of people who now rely entirely on the public health system. This puts enormous pressure on the public system, which is funded by tax-payers. It is quite clear that Minister Reilly is creating a vicious circle here.
“Before he was Minister for Health, James Reilly would be the first person to criticise an increase of this scale to the levy on insurance policies. In fact, on January 18th 2011 Deputy Reilly described the levy he has just increased as an “injustice”. Private health Insurers themselves have expressed surprise at the scale of the increase which suggests there was no consultation before this announcement was made, an emerging theme from this government.
“Minister Reilly is driving forward with health insurance reforms that will take 10 years to implement while at the same time doing nothing to address the costs for families today. The result being that more people will become dependent on the public hospital system and people will wait longer for treatment.
“Far from making health insurance universal the Government is pursuindoing the opposite,” said Deputy Kirk.