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Private Health Insurance Cover

Most of us have been aware for some time that many, within our community of Thurles and Tipperary, have made the conscious decision to cancel our existing private health insurance. It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that in an answer to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael colleague Jim Daly, the Health Minister  Dr James Reilly TD has confirmed that over 76,000 people have now cancelled their health insurance cover. In just the past 12 months up to the end of March of this year, (2012) record numbers have instead applied for medical cards.

The Irish Patients Association warns that this mass exodus from the Irish private health sector will end up with the bill for medical card holders, being paid by the taxpayer & by those who manage to remain insured members.

With costs running at an average of €1,000 per head in some cases, private health insurance is now viewed as a non affordable commodity, being operated purely for profit.  These high costs are forcing people to fall out of the private health insurance market, mainly due to other demands on families to fund what are considered to be other more necessary demands on their weekly household budgets. Any further price increases will make it more difficult for persons who currently hold private health insurance to continue to renew their policies.

While there are still 46.6% of the population covered by private health insurance, our public system now has the highest number of medical cards ever issued in the Irish States medical card history. Private health plans are becoming unaffordable, particularly for our elderly, and health insurance providers continue to tailor their insurance plans toward the younger, healthier customers, who are less likely to make any immediate future claims.

Figures compiled by the Irish Patients Association show that between January 2010 and March 2012, the number of medical cards increased by over 280,000 or 19.0% and doctor-only visiting cards by 28,000 or 28.5%.  When all is totted up, this equates to 1.76 million people with medical cards and 126,860 people with doctor-only visiting cards.

If this present trend is allowed to continues, then patients arriving at hospital reception desks will soon be asked the question, “Have you private health insurance or do you want to die?

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