Pledge of universal health care appears to have vanished
Last year, 64,000 subscribers dropped their health insurance. After further steep increases, the number of parents and their children who could leave in the near future has been put at tens of thousands. At peak, private health insurance covered 51pc of the Irish population, an extraordinarily high proportion. Much of this was due to the shortcomings of the public system. But over the past few years the cost of private insurance has risen so steeply that more and more consider it simply unaffordable and have returned to relying on public provision.
The flow may increase shortly, when a levy of €350 (€120 for children) will be imposed to support the "community rating" system. This is the device which saves people from paying more when older or more frail.
One of the greatest concerns of health professionals is that it is chiefly younger and healthier people who are leaving the private system. In addition, people are cutting down on treatment or delaying it. That must mean, in some cases, long-term problems.