We read today that those who have health insurance are facing a further 15% hike in premiums from 1 July. This means that the average premium for two adults and two children will have doubled in the past three years, to €2,500. The hike about to come in is the result of legislation that is coming in July. The Government wants to raise €60 million and wants to charge the full cost for private patients using the public health system. In essence, it is putting an unsustainable burden on individual families. Subscribers pay their taxes and under the 1970 Health Act, they are entitled to treatment in acute hospitals. They pay a second contribution through health insurance.
The problem is fundamentally that the continual price hikes are threatening the sustainability of the health insurance market. The Health Insurance Authority estimates that 90,000 will leave in 2014 and 68,000 left in 2012. Approximately 6,000 per month are leaving the health insurance market. Given that there is a community rating system which depends on younger subscribers cross-subsidising older users of the system, it is clear that it is the younger members who are not taking up the premiums or are leaving and that this is placing significant strains on the sustainability of the health insurance market. This is in the context of the universal health insurance model or the Dutch model that was proposed by the Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, and the Taoiseach before the last election. We are nowhere near the realisation of that. No White Paper has been published.
Does the Tánaiste accept that the position is not sustainable and we are in the beginning of a cycle that could spell the death-knell for the private health insurance market? I am not saying that, analysts are saying it. The Health Insurance Authority is putting out warnings in that regard. Something must happen in terms of the overall plan to intervene to stop what is, in essence, a debt spiral in the health insurance market.