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“New figures for 2014 from the Health Insurance Authority show that the total number of people covered by health insurance has now risen for two quarters in a row,” said Minister Varadkar. “The changes are small but significant. One of my key priorities for 2015 is making health insurance more affordable so that the number of people covered continues to increase. It is part of the transition to universal coverage.”
The figures show an increase of 7,434 in numbers insured in the last quarter of 2014 (Oct-Dec), from 2,018,180 to 2,025,614. This follows a 1,093 increase in the previous quarter (Jul-Sep), from 2,017,087 to 2,018,180;
The number of people dropping health insurance is also decreasing, with 23,573 leaving the market in 2014 compared to 49,755 in 2013.
Last November, Minister Varadkar announced a series of measures designed to address rising premiums and stabilise private health insurance in the interests of consumers.
The package included a reduction in the community rating levy; special lower premiums for young adults; the introduction of Lifetime Community Rating; and a reduction in the Health Insurance Authority funding levy.
In the interim, prices for many policies have either been frozen or cut, new low-cost packages are being offered and any increases in premiums have generally been in single digit figures, stated the Department of Health in a press release today. “The aim was to encourage more people to take out health insurance by making it more affordable for those who wish to have it, in line with Minister Varadkar’s priorities for 2015,” it stated.
A further significant change comes into effect from May 1 with the introduction of Lifetime Community Rating, which is designed to encourage young people to take out health insurance at an earlier age, Minister Varadkar added.