Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (260)

Anne Rabbitte


260. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the INIS requirements regarding private medical insurance for non-EEA students undertaking full-time education here; if his attention has been drawn to the recent decision by the Health Insurance Authority regarding the removal of the current policy; if his Department has been engaging with the Department of Health on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39465/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department is aware of the High Court judgment of last year on the provisions of the Health Insurance Act 1994 and its impact on insurance policies for non-EEA nationals and in particular non-EEA Students. The Deputy should be aware that I, as Minister for Justice and Equality, have no responsibility or influence as regards such matters. The regulation of private health insurance is solely a matter for the Health Insurance Authority (HIA), which is the statutory regulator of the private health insurance market in the State.

I can advise the Deputy that it has always been the case that students seeking an immigration permission to reside in the State must prove that they have sufficient finances to support themselves without recourse to State funds. This includes the necessity to provide proof of individual private health insurance or medical insurance as part of a group insurance scheme operated by the college/school or travel insurance. This would provide the student with adequate medical insurance cover in Ireland.

I understand that the High Court judgment provides that private medical insurance for non-EEA nationals, who are considered  as being ordinarily resident in the State for the purpose of the Health Insurance Act 1994, are, as a result of the judgment, subject to the principle of community-rating. In this regard, while the judgment changes the requirements for the way private medical insurance is operated for non-EEA nationals, it does not, in itself, change immigration policy and the requirements for non-EEA students wishing to study in Ireland.

The Deputy may also be aware that there is an appeal pending on the judgment and as a result it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on matters that are before the Courts and therefore sub judice.

However, officials of my Department have had ongoing contact with the relevant officials in the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills to discuss issues relevant to the judgment. I am advised that no changes to immigration policy for non-EEA students are currently envisaged as part of such discussions.  

Further information on the requirement for non-EEA students to hold private medical insurance when coming to and residing in the State for the purposes of study is available on the website of the Immigration Service www.inis.gov.ie .