Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Questions (206)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

206. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Health his Department's definition of a standard private health insurance policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51037/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department oversees the maintenance of a competitive and sustainable private health insurance market, under the provisions of the Health Insurance Acts 1994 to 2012, and monitors developments on an ongoing basis, to ensure that the market is regulated appropriately in the transition to a market-based Universal Health Insurance system. As of 1 October, there are 258 health insurance products on the market, of which 34 provided non advanced cover. The proliferation of plans available on the market and the increasing segmentation of the market, due to strategies adopted by the commercial providers, is of growing concern to me.

In this context, there are a number of options under consideration to help address the increasing number of plans on the market and the decreasing membership of the private health insurance market. One such measure is the possible introduction of a standard plan, supported by an effective Risk Equalisation Scheme and optional risk-rated additions. It is envisaged that a standard plan would provide an appropriate, defined level of health insurance cover, beyond which Risk Equalisation would not apply, and would be intended to provide greater clarity to consumers seeking to easily identify and purchase a health insurance product which provides a suitable level of cover. There is considerable work required to assess the impact of such a measure, including a thorough examination of the specific appropriate benefits and content that should appropriately be covered by a standard plan. These and other regulatory issues will be examined further by my Department in the coming months, to ascertain their merits and potential benefit to the private health insurance market.