Statement issued by the Health Insurance Authority in relation to the Government announcement on Strategy for the Health Insurance Market 27.05.2010

Thursday, 27 May,
2010 -
The Health Insurance Authority welcomes today's Government
announcement on private health insurance, which includes a range of measures
aimed at supporting community rating in the interests of a sustainable health
insurance market.  Many of the measures
announced reflect advice provided by the Authority.

In recent years community rating has been significantly
undermined through segmentation of the market, whereby the age and risk
profiles of health insurance customers differ between insurance products and
insurance providers.  Without appropriate
supports, the effect of such segmentation is that older and less healthy people
pay more on average for their health insurance, which is contrary to the
principle of community rating. 

While the interim measures involving age related tax credits
funded through a health insurance levy introduced in 2009 have provided some
support for community rating, they are no substitute for a comprehensive risk
equalisation system supported by strong minimum benefit rules.  As announced, the Authority will shortly be
consulting with stakeholders on the parameters of a new robust system and will
then advise the Minister.

The Authority also welcomes steps being taken to bring VHI
Healthcare within the remit of the Financial Regulator.  While the introduction of a comprehensive
risk equalisation system is necessary in order to support a community rated
market, it is also an important step required for this purpose.

Ends

About the Health Insurance Authority:  The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) is
a statutory body and is the regulator of the private health insurance market in
Ireland.
The principal functions of the Authority are:

  • To provide information to consumers on their rights and their
    options.
  • To monitor the health insurance market and enforce compliance with
    legislation.
  • To advise the Minister for Health and Children.
  • To carry out certain functions in relation to health insurance
    stamp duty and age related
    tax credits and in relation to any risk equalisation scheme that may be
    introduced.
  • To maintain The Register of Health Benefits Undertakings and
    The Register of Health Insurance Contracts.

The Health Insurance Acts provide important rights and
protections to policy holders, including the right to switch between plans or
insurers without penalty. Information on consumers rights and comparing health
insurance products are available from the Authority's website at www.hia.ie or by calling (01) 4060080.

 

For further information, please contact:

Paul McSharry,
FD, T. 01 66 33 600; M. 087 2406642; E. paul.mcsharry@fd.com

or

Jim Devlin, FD,
T. 01 66 33 600; M. 087 2631057; E. jim.devlin@fd.com