Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has called on the Government to immediately review the tax changes announced in the budget which will cause health insurance costs to rise by hundreds of euro.
The Budget capped the amount of premium on which tax relief is available at €1,000 for an adult and €500 for a child.
Deputy Cowen commented, “Under the Fine Gael and Labour plan announced this week a family of two adults and two children in Offaly face paying an extra €150 a year in health insurance while some polices could go up by over €300 a year. Michael Noonan said his tax change would hit people with ‘gold plated’ policies. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are thousands of families in Offaly on modest incomes who will be hit hard by this decision.”
Deputy Cowen claimed that the health insurance industry has been ‘thrown into chaos’ adding that industry experts say up to one million people will be hit by the changes in tax relief.
“Families are under huge strain and many are struggling to keep up with the costs of private health insurance. Prices have risen consistently under this Government and thousands of people have been forced to give up their health insurance which means more pressure is placed on the public hospital system,” he commented.
“There were 2,078,000 people insured with in-patient health insurance plans at the end of March 2013. This was down by 21,000 over the previous three months and over 60,000 in the previous year. The Government is actively driving people out of the market and this week’s budget change will make matters even worse. How can the Minister introduce a major tax change hitting 50% of customers and expect that it won’t further destabilise the health insurance market and cause more hardship for families in Offaly and across the country,” he concluded.