Ditch paying private healthcare and start saving for the future
Your front page report (Irish Independent, April 6) got me thinking about the wisdom of continuing to pay for health insurance, which I have been doing for 35 years. Should tax relief be abolished on it, the cost would increase by 20pc.
This is on top of regular increases in the core cost for as long as I can remember, but especially so in recent years, and the extortionate health levy going up again. In addition, if the inpatient charge was abolished then the logic of reverting to using only public health services becomes much stronger.
I have used both private and public healthcare and both are equally excellent, the only real difference being the long delays in accessing public care, but this only applies in non-emergency situations and it is also noteworthy that many people with insurance are treated in public wards anyway.
Also of interest is the fact that many people with private health insurance (PHI) are reluctant to be referred to a consultant because the initial consultation fee is not covered by PHI.
Perhaps the idea that one should save the money previously spent on PHI as an emergency fund to buy at least some private healthcare in an urgent situation is becoming increasingly valid.
If one is relatively young and healthy, then the logic of the latter is even stronger.
If you decide to abandon PHI, then I would advise thinking about your future health problems, even if they are only minor in your own eyes. Attend your GP with a view to getting referred to as many consultants as necessary to resolve all of your issues because waiting lists are long and getting longer.
As I have said above, this country has a superb public health service and this is especially evident in the technical competence of its staff and in the fact that expense is rarely an issue with drugs.
So get on to the end of those lists ASAP and then perhaps enjoy a well deserved two weeks in the sun with that PHI money.
And don't worry, Róisín Shortall has you covered!
Glasnevin, Dublin 9
Referendum would help our hand
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has clearly not realised or understood the hostile attitude to Britain displayed on Wednesday in the European Parliament will not allow for any transition arrangements or concessions in our relations with what is by far our largest trading partner.
We should get ready for a referendum on our continued membership of the EU. That would give us a bargaining hand of great strength and enable us to move quickly if the EU will not recognise our unique relationship with Britain.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Enough scare stories, Charlie
I write taking great exception to two articles published in the last week by Charlie Weston, a journalist I admire greatly and whose articles are usually compelling reading.
The first article concerned an impending 2pc hike in interest rates. As a hypothetical scenario it is indeed a danger to borrowers, but Mr Weston didn't qualify it in any way and left the impression this was imminent.
I follow the general media commentary and also European Central Bank president Mario Draghi's comments. Nothing he has said recently indicates such a scenario. Yes, he has become more neutral on quantitative easing, but he has not outlined a timeframe for 'switching off the tap'.
I suspect that will not arise anytime soon given the anaemic inflation and growth outlook for the eurozone and the downside risk to EU exports.
In yesterday's Irish Independent, Mr Weston goes off on one again. This time it's the imminent withdrawal of tax relief on health insurance contributions.
Mr Weston, all it is is a report from a committee of worthies suggesting this as a possible source of additional health funding. Committees have a free hand to come up with whatever loopy idea they like but any compos mentis politician would not even consider it, given the unstable electoral outlook.
Charlie, come on mate. If I want to get sensational stories I'll buy a red-top. Please, spare us the scare stories.
Tullamore, Co Offaly
Playing blame game on the West
There are a number of inaccuracies in Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob's letter (Irish Independent, April 6) and one is simply that western governments are by and large not responsible for the latest suffering of victims in Syria's civil war.
As the cruelty and economic despair unleashed has been a result of oppressive Islamic regimes such as Isil, it would be interesting to learn about the number of refugees accepted across the borders by Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring states.
Western governments may well be actors in the negotiations, but if matters fail it is often down to the obstinacy and intransigence of Russia and the failure of other states in the Middle East and not the West.
Maybe it is time Islamic leaders and states facilitate the entry of large numbers of refugees and grant them the provisions so readily available in the West. I feel Dr Qutob is laying blame at the wrong door.
Kilmainham, Dublin 8
Strike gets us exercising
Bus Éireann workers should be praised. So many people are walking from A to B and back again that obesity levels are dropping all around the country.
Schoolhouse Lane, Dublin 8
Innocents go on suffering
The US cruise missiles attack on Syria yesterday must be condemned by all right-thinking people who are opposed to the continuous military intervention on Syria.
The US killed untold children two weeks ago in Mosul. The outcome of that attack? Nothing.
I personally have no time for the present elected leader in Syria and I have less time for the ongoing carnage that is being created all over the Middle East.
This chaos has been ongoing since I was a child and the innocents go on suffering. The purveyors of gas and chemical attacks, whomever they come from, must stand before a criminal court and be judged then.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
Don't be enticed by FF again
Is it history repeating itself? In 1977, Fianna Fáil won the General Election by abolishing, among other things, rates on houses - a loss of indirect taxation that has had repercussions to this day.
Now, 40 years later, Fianna Fáil, having led governments that drowned the country in debt, wants to abolish water charges. Are we so democratically childlike that we can be once again enticed onto the Fianna Fáil power machine by the offer of an ice water lolly?
Troika, Troika please come back - all is forgiven!
Barna, Co Galway