Kenny says hike needed 'to protect the elderly'
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny said the hike in the health insurance levy is necessary to ensure older people are not "abandoned".
The increase of the health insurance levy by €130 for a family of four will affect the majority of the two million people who have medical cover.
The Government has imposed the new levy on all policies to ensure that older people don't have to pay more for health insurance than young people with the same level of cover.
Health Minister James Reilly claimed health insurance companies should be able to absorb the levy hike. But this has already been ruled out by the health insurers.
Dr Reilly said health insurance companies were making profits and did not have to pass on the increase to their younger policy holders. He also said the big problem was that charges for procedures are too high.
Mr Kenny said the Coalition was not going to "abandon older people to be manipulated by health insurance companies". He said there was no extra money coming into the Exchequer as a result of the move, and it means extra credits will be given to people over 65.
Mr Kenny also said health insurers needed to look at how they can reduce their own costs.
"Why is it in 2013 we're still paying the same charge for procedures that used to take a long time and required days in hospital 20 years ago but can now be done in a relatively short time?" he said.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the price hike would result in more people dropping their health insurance policies.
"It is the government's policies that are driving the haemorrhage out of the system," he said.