Older people could be hit hardest by health insurance hike

A Dáil committee is set to recommend scraping tax relief on policies

Older people could be hit hardest by health insurance hike

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Health insurance customers could be facing yet more hikes.

A Special Dáil Committee on the Future of Healthcare is expected to tell the Government to scrap tax relief on policies.

The committee is set to argue that the tax relief is effectively a subsidy for private insurance firms.

The Irish Independent says it could add €600 to average premium costs.

Dermot Goode is an insurance expert with totalhealthcover.ie.

He told the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk scrapping the tax relief would hit older people particularly hard.

"The tax relief was slashed two years ago in the budget...quite unexpectedly - and that had a huge impact, particularly on older people.

"If this tax relief is removed now then every person will lose €200 tax relief.

"For a retired couple that's €400.

"But for older people who need the top quality cover, who can't afford to take on excesses and co-payments and who are probably using their cover that €400 is a huge amount of money.

"That will force a considerable number of them to reduce their cover".

Public system "not reliable"

Mr Goode says the Government needs to sort out the public system first.

"50% of all people who have health insurance: they don't buy it because they want the private room and they want the private consultant - they buy it because the public system right now is not reliable.

"If they fix the public system, there is a case to be made for 'why should we support private enterprise, private insurance companies when our public system is working'.

"One in nine people in this country are waiting on those public waiting lists - and thousands of them are children".

"If we look at what's driving up health insurance premiums - it's Government interference.

"A week ago the Government increased the levies by 10%, that gets passed on to us straight away, they have been double-charging every person with health insurance in the public system for the last two years, and they've taken an extra €200m out of the pockets of those who have private health insurance.

"So our premiums are now going up by double digit increases again because of those measures.

"And now what is the solution? Let's take the little bit of tax relief that they give us to cushion that, let's now take that away".