I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:
“(b) the necessity of ensuring, in the interests of societal and intergenerational solidarity, that the more healthy, including the young access health insurance cover so as to ensure that the health insurance market is made up of a sufficient mix of the more healthy, including the young and the less healthy, including the old,”.
This amendment is on foot of the discussion on Committee Stage about the difficulties the insurance market is facing and my concern that if we are to develop the notion of intergenerational solidarity, community rating and risk equalisation, the need to get young people into the health insurance market is of critical importance. That is the reason I put down this amendment. It is because of the necessity to ensure, in the interests of societal and intergenerational solidarity, that the more healthy, including the young, access health insurance cover and that the health insurance market is made up of a sufficient mix of the more healthy, including the young, and the less healthy, including the old.
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure we have a sustainable health insurance market in the next number of years. The Minister has committed himself to bringing about universal health insurance. We can have a debate about that another day but in the meantime, even if we move towards universal health insurance, it is critically important that we have vibrancy and sustainability in the health insurance market. That means we must have an approach whereby young people see it as beneficial and there is merit in taking out private health insurance with a health insurer. Otherwise, we will have a situation, as is currently the case, in which people are reducing their cover and even reducing the number of people insured in their families. We now have cases in which the father in a family has given up health insurance because he cannot afford it.
I do not expect the Minister to resolve the difficulties families are under in terms of funding private health insurance but, at the same time, it is within his remit at least to try to curtail rising health inflation and to ensure also that we have an attractive health insurance market that gives people some reward for taking out private health insurance. If we do not do that we will not have a sustainable intergenerational support base for young people to assist in community rating and cross-subsidisation in terms of those who are older and drawing on health insurance. That is the reason behind this amendment. I tabled it knowing the Minister would reject it, but I wanted to stimulate some debate between now and the time when universal health insurance is established, so that in the meantime we can have a sustainable, vibrant insurance market in which there is cross-subsidisation, risk equalisation, community rating and intergenerational solidarity.