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