Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has said the stability of the health insurance market is being “completely undermined by the Government’s decision to continually push up the cost of insurance, driving thousands of people out of the market altogether.”

Deputy Kelleher commented: “There is a haemorrhage of younger, healthier people from the private health insurance market at the moment and the latest levy increase will drive thousands more people from the market this year.  Between the tax changes announced in the budget and the increase in the levy announced by Minister Reilly an average family with two children will pay an extra €300 in health insurance premiums next year.

“Up to 6,000 people are month are leaving the health insurance market and families can no longer afford their private cover.  Every time people are forced to drop their private health insurance they become completely reliant on the public hospital system which is already under huge strain.  64,000 people left the health insurance market in 2012 and the estimate is 75,000 people will leave this year.

“The decisions the Government are making are undermining the principle of community rating.  The more younger people that leave the market the greater the burden that will be pushed onto older customers.  The Government is actually destabilising the private health insurance market as a whole.

“Minister Reilly’s failure to control costs and avoid major hikes in insurance is putting families under pressure with their budgets and forcing many to make impossible choices to try to retain their health cover and cut back on other essential household expenses.

“If Minister Reilly’s real policy objective is to make private health insurance a luxury for only the wealthiest families in the country, he’s doing a magnificent job. By any other yardstick, he is a complete disaster.”