Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Failure to introduce Risk Equalisation is based on Tánaiste's ideological outlook

30 June, 2005

Speaking during today's Dáil debate on the failure of the Minister for Health to introduce Risk Equalisation to the health care market Sinn Féin Deputy Arthur Morgan said: "The decision by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children to reject the Health Insurance Agency's recommendation in relation to the introduction of risk equalisation is based on the Tánaiste's ideological outlook.

"Risk equalisation is necessary to reflect the older age profile of VHI's membership.

"The Health Insurance Agency, recommended the introduction of risk equalisation in light of the damage being done to the VHI under the current regime. They concluded that consumers will be better served by lower premiums that would flow from risk equalisation. Given that the Health Insurance Authority is already in place to advise the Minister on these issues why did she consider it necessary to go and hire private consultants on this issue? Was it simply because she knew they would give her the results she wanted?

"The Tánaiste‚s decision is based on her desire to undermine the VHI. I would be interested to know the extent of the representations made to the Tánaiste by BUPA and VIVAS in relation to this matter.

"This is a clear case of the PD rampage against state companies. Her actions are likely to lead to an increase in premiums as VHI faces the continued loss of younger members to BUPA. The failure to introduce risk equalisation has the potential to irreparably damage the VHI as it enters a spiral of rising premiums and rising claims.

"In the absence of risk equalisation certain insures can concentrate in targeting lower risk individuals.

"It has been pointed out that the Health Insurance Agency took the commercial status of the VHI into account when arriving at its recommendation that, on balance, risk equalisation should be implemented. This undermines the claims made by the Tánaiste to justify her failure to introduce risk equalisation. Her decision is a scandalous and is totally unjustifiable.

"The boom in the numbers of people taking up health insurance is indicative of the failure of the Government to reform the health service in this state to ensuring equal and proper access for all.

"The people of this state are already paying over the odds for health care. We pay for it through our PRSI and through the additional health levy. On top of this, we pay out of pocket for every visit to our GP. And 50% of us are paying for private insurance as well. The Tánaiste said earlier that she welcomes this statistic. Well, she should - it is her Government's policies, and in particular the long waiting lists those policies have created, that have driven people into the arms of the insurers. The decision not to implement risk equalisation will only result in a further increase in the cost of health care.

"Fundamentally Sinn Féin believes that healthcare is incompatible with the Market. We believe in Free health care at the point of delivery based on need not ability to pay. We believe it is the responsibility of the Govt to provide health services through the general taxation system.

"Health care should never be a commodity to be bought and sold - it should be a right." ENDS

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