The number of people insured continues to decline since its peak at almost 2.3 million at the end of 2008. At the end of June 2013, 2.06 million people held private health insurance, which represents a reduction of 64,000 from end June 2012. The reduction in numbers has occurred in all age groups, but particularly in the 18 to 29 age group and it is unlikely that people in this age category will have a severe impact on public health services. Conversely, the loss of younger insured adults from the private health insurance market has a strong impact on inter-generational solidarity which underpins our community rated health insurance market.
The gross current budget for the Health Sector for 2014 is €13,263m, a reduction of €361m on the 2013 allocation of €13,624m. A total of €666m in health savings measures have been identified in the context of the Health Estimates to meet the overall health expenditure ceiling reduction of €361m, Programme for Government commitments of €57m, and health service pressures of €248m.
The level of health services to be delivered within the available funding will be set out in the Health Service Executive's 2014 National Service Plan. Given the demands on the health service, in particular from demographic and other service pressures, it is clear that the preparation of the 2014 Service Plan will be a challenging exercise. It remains a priority of my Department and the HSE to focus on improving the way services are organised and delivered, and to reduce costs so as to minimise any negative effect on service provision.