Monday 17 December 2018

Young ignore moves to force them take out health cover

The price of health insurance is set to rise again
The price of health insurance is set to rise again
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

MOST younger adults who do not have health insurance have no intention of taking it out.

This is despite Government plans to impose a levy on those who wait until they are over 35 before taking out cover, a new survey shows.

So-called lifetime community rating is to be introduced in May, next year.

The Department of Health has decided that those over the age of 34, who have never had health insurance, will be penalised for waiting until then to take it out.

There will be a 2pc loading on their premium for every year they have been out of the system.

This will mean that a 50-year-old taking out health insurance for the first time will pay a 32pc loading on top of the basic premium, compared to someone who has had cover all this time.

The aim is to protect community rating, the policy that where everyone pays the same premium for the same level of cover, regardless of age.

Now research by the One Big Switch campaign has found that the plans for lifetime community rating are unlikely to deliver thousands of younger subscribers into the health insurance system. A survey of 12,000 consumers found that just 16pc of those who do not have health cover will take out a policy because of the new rules.

When the survey focused in on those in their 20s and 30s who do not have private health insurance, just one of five of them said the introduction of lifetime community rating would make them take out cover.

And very few of those in their 20s and 30s support the measure, in what is set to be a problem for Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

Just 12pc of young adults said the Government's move to bring in lifetime community rating would make them vote for it in the next election.

Director of campaigns at One Big Switch, Sarah Ryan, said the planned change was doomed to failure.

"The introduction of lifetime community rating won't work in its current structure. It will only serve to block those who can't afford it now out for life," she said.

As part of the new plan, the Government had promised to introduce discounts to encourage people in their 20s to take out health insurance, but has yet to act on that.

At the moment a person who reaches 21 no longer qualifies for a student discount, which means their premium will more than double from a student rate of €400 when they reach that age.

One Big Switch has launched a health insurance switch campaign, aimed at unlocking more affordable health insurance for thousands of Irish people. Some 12,000 people have signed up so far.

Meanwhile, One Big Switch has expressed concerns about a memo from the finance chief of the HSE directing hospitals to charge private health insurance patients as much as possible, which was revealed in the Irish Independent.

Ms Ryan said this means that premiums in Ireland are more likely to increase for households, which are "already bloated with costs".

Irish Independent

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