Saturday 24 February 2018

Harris and Varadkar say tax relief for private health insurance will not be removed

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris

Eilish O’Regan

Health Minister Simon Harris and Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar today said the Government will continue to provide tax relief for private health insurance.

They were responding to signals from the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare that a recommendation to end the tax reliefs for people who take out private health insurance will be part of its final report.

Its report will chart the way forward for the health service in the next decade.

Mr Harris said: "That is not a proposal that would work. I believe in a universal healthcare system but the way you reach that is to build up capacity within the public health service.

"That way more people have confidence in the public health system. You put in more beds and staff and reduce waiting times. In that way more people will not have to pay for private health insurance which they are put at the pin of their collar to pay for.

"To remove the tax relief is not the way you do it. I  want to reach political consensus. This is a draft report."

Mr Varadkar said he totally agreed with the minister for health. "About 40pc of the population have private health insurance. They are hardworking people. It is their own money. The only concession they get is a 20pc concession on tax relief and there can be no removing of that until we have solved the problems in our public  health service first. It is not the way to go."

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