Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Ceisteanna (349, 350)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

349. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a decision by the Health Insurance Authority that will see a significant rise in the cost of international students' private medical insurance; if his Department has assessed the polices the other providers can provide; the estimated increased cost; if those policies will include repatriation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

350. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health if he has considered amending the Health Insurance Acts to remove international students from the definition of health insurance contract in the same way that other temporary residents are excluded regarding the decision by the Health Insurance Authority that will likely lead to a significant increase in the cost of private medical insurance for international students studying here and in view of the lack of clarity on other policies that include repatriation available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39441/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 349 and 350 together.

The Irish health insurance market is community rated, meaning insured persons pay the same level of premium for a given benefit, regardless of health profile (age, gender or health status). This principle applies to all consumers who are ordinarily resident in the country (here for a period of more than one year) as is set out in health insurance legislation.

In the case of non-EEA students wishing to secure a visa to stay and study in Ireland, one of the requirements set down by the Department of Justice (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service), is that these students have health insurance for the period of their stay, so that they may not be a burden on the Irish public health system.

Within this particular cohort there are those who are resident here for more than one year and therefore the community rating principle applies when they buy their insurance policies in Ireland.

The High Court last year upheld the issuance by the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) of an enforcement notice to an insurer, instructing this insurer to cease selling non-community rated policies to non-EEA students resident in the country for more than one year.

If non-EEA students who are resident here for more than one year wish to purchase health insurance in Ireland, they may purchase community rated products from other companies that are registered with the HIA. Each of the three open membership insurers (Irish Life Health, Laya Healthcare and Vhi) have starter plans which offer coverage in most public hospitals and range in price from €480-500 per annum. Insurers also offer young adult rates on many of their products, which further reduces the premium for young people availing of health insurance. The rates range from 50% of adult premium for someone aged 18, up to full adult premium for a 26 year old person.

All health insurance policies sold in Ireland must also include a set of minimum benefits. These benefits are called the Minimum Benefit Regulations and are set out in health insurance legislation. They include a cohort of procedures that are important and of benefit to the community of the insured population. Coverage for repatriation is not included in these regulations and therefore health insurance policies sold in Ireland do not need to provide cover for this circumstance.