Saturday 24 February 2018

People will know cost of Universal Health Insurance next year - Reilly

Health Minister James Reilly. Photo: Collins
Health Minister James Reilly. Photo: Collins
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Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

People will know the cost of Universal Health Insurance (UHI) by the end of March next year, Health Minister James Reilly has said.

Defending his controversial reform plan, the minister said younger people will be offered the means to reduce their health insurance cover by way of “deductable rates” to allow them tailor their package to their reduced needs compared to elderly patients.

“There will be no lesser package. What we are talking about is offering younger people deductables. What I mean by that, if you are convinced you don’t really need health insurance this year, well then you can a lower premium if you accept you will pay more if you do require a service. You will have to pay the first €100 or first €200 for that service. I don’t think that is a two tier system, but it does give more choice,” he said.

Dr Reilly insisted that average income earners will not pay more than what they pay at present, rather they will pay “just a fraction of that.”

“The current cost, on average, for private health insurance is €920. We have made it absolutely clear that those people who are above the medical card income limit and below the top 30 per cent of earners will be heavily subsidised so their costs will be but a fraction of that,” he said.

“There is no evidence that the costs will be higher, we believe it will be cheaper under Universal Health Insurance (UHI). It has been claimed that the health basket will be determined by insurance companies, it will not. It will be determined by the Government,” he said.

Dr Reilly has said that the Government will decide which services will be included in the basket offered to patients under his UHI model which will determine the costs.

“When the process has been finished in relation to the public consultation on the basket, by the first quarter of next year we will have a decision by Government as to what goes into the basket.  Then will allow us to put the costing of it,” he said.

Dr Reilly also committed that those currently in receipt of free medicines will not see any change to their services.

“Those currently entitled to free drugs will continue to have that entitlement,” he said.

Dr Reilly said the new model does not equate to abandoning the community rating system, where a person’s age does not determine the level of premium they pay.  “Absolutely no way will we sacrifice community rating,” he said.

Irish Independent

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