Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has said that moves which increase charges on private patients in public hospitals are “a false economy.” 

Deputy Kelleher commented, “While the health Minister James Reilly claims the moves will generate up to €143m, the reality is that this will be passed onto hard-pressed families in the forms of increased premiums. 

“This decision is short sighted.  It will directly result in hikes in premiums – the VHI says it could lead to a 50% increase – and will see further pressure on an already stretched public health system.  

“To understand the scale of Minister Reilly’s cynicism, we need only look to his recent comments while in opposition.  Reilly described increases in VHI premiums as “horrendous”, that they would be “the last straw” for some people. 

“As health minister, and as a result of moves he has signed off on today, he will be responsible for some of the most severe increases in health insurance premiums ever. 

“These moves will destroy an already fragile private health insurance market.  Last year alone, 110,000 people left the market.  Any further increases in premiums will only lead to a further flight of people from the private market to an already overstretched public system. 

Deputy Kelleher concluded: “Meanwhile, Reilly’s plans for Universal Health Insurance are in chaos.  He has not published a White Paper; there is no plan. Indeed, with the moves announced today, he has set the provision of health care in Ireland into reverse.”