Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has said the policies being pursued Minister for Health are leading directly to private health insurance price increases.

Deputy Kelleher said: “The increase from the VHI today is extremely disappointing but it cannot and will not come as a surprise as the Minister for Health is pursuing a policy that is driving health insurance beyond the reach of families and older people.

“What is shocking is that the highest increases today are reserved for older people.  This will lead to thousands of older people simply being unable to renew their policies.  Families are also facing an increased burden in the order of €200 on the VHI’s most popular plan.  60,000 people dropped out of the health insurance market in 2011 and 5,000 a month are leaving the market, leaving themselves entirely dependent on the public health system.  As a result waiting times in hospitals will increase and Minister Reilly is only making the situation worse.

“Is the Minister for Health intent on ensuring that private health insurance is put well and truly beyond the reach of people on ordinary incomes?

“The increases in private health insurance over the last year are in stark contrast to the Minister’s commitment to bring in universal health insurance.  By the Minister’s own admission this is a 10 year project.  Are people really expected to face staggering prices increases for a decade?

“Minister Reilly has said the Health Insurance Forum will meet in the coming weeks to address the costs of private sector medical care.  It would perhaps have been more appropriate for the Minister to convene the Forum before he increase the Government levy on policies by 40% and before health insurers were forced to increase costs for families and older people.”