Is The Irish Health Insurance System In Trouble?-4446

February 14th, 2011
Is The Irish Health Insurance System In Trouble?-4446

It seems so, according to a number of commentators. It appears that two of the largest health insurance companies in Ireland have put up their prices so far that many people can no longer afford it.

The Irish health market was opened up to the ‘market’ and competition in the mid 1990s, but the companies offering premiums have all followed a similar pattern resulting in a gradual inability to be able to pay or unable to access insurance.

The pattern was this: One company increases their prices from 15% to 45%. This causes uproar. Other companies follow suit hiking up prices massively. At the same time new insurance companies coming in start cherry picking more profitable customers. The customers themselves find they are either unable to pay the increases or are unable to access health insurance. One major reason for this is the aging population, with older people needing more medical care.

Further, with advances in technology and medicine such as the development of new drugs, people are living longer.

However according to Irish health commentators there is another reason. Irish health was based originally on something community rating. This meant everyone regardless of age or medical condition paid the same price for the same health insurance policy. Like the pension scheme, younger, healthier people subsidised older and less healthy people. This principle broke down when market competition was introduced.

Unfortunately, for years Irish Government ministers have not grasped the nettle so to speak, which is now leaving most people in difficulties. This is demonstrated by the alarming statistic that 33,000 people (roughly 1.5% of all customers) did not take out health insurance at all in the first 9 months of 2010.

With the latest price increases this figure is set to rise massively.

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