The Dáil will debate a Fianna Fáil motion on private health insurance over the next two days.
The debate comes just a day after the Health Insurance Authority said that another 64,000 customers left the market in 2012. 67,000 also exited in 2011.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher says that the bulk of those leaving are the younger customers that are essential to a balanced market. “We have a serious problem within the health insurance industry where the ever increasing costs means that 200 people per day are giving up on their health insurance.
“The Programme for Government said it would “act speedily to reduce costs in the delivery of both public and private health care”. The government is now beginning its third year in office and nothing substantial has happened. Instead the numbers leaving the market have accelerated with 130,000 leaving over the past two years compared to just under 70,000 in the previous two years.
“However these figures are even more alarming when one considers that more people over 50 are actually signing up. The market is fundamentally and dangerously unbalanced. We need to incentivise younger customers and young families to enter and re-enter the market. With that in mind Fianna Fáil is proposing that we defer the proposed hike in the levy due to take effect from the end of March.
“We are also calling for children to be exempted from the levy. This would be a big break for hard pressed families.
“We are calling for lifetime community rating to be phased in. This means that anyone joining the market at 25 would be treated just the same at 45 and 65. However if they deferred taking out insurance until they were 45 they would pay a higher rate than if they joined at 25.
“No one is pretending there are any easy solutions to this problem but we have to confront it. The government has been largely indifferent and complacent over the past two years. It’s time for them to wake up and really take this issue on.”