herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Fewer dropping out and more buying in to health insurance

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

The number of people covered by health insurance is rising.

New figures show an increase of 7,434 in the last quarter of last year.

Some 23,573 people dropped their health insurance in 2014, the figures reveal.

But that is significantly fewer than the 49,755 who opted out in 2013.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the figures from the Health Insurance Authority show the total number of people covered by health insurance has risen for two quarters in a row.

"The changes are small but significant," he said.

Mr Varadkar said one of his key priorities for this year is making health insurance more affordable so that the number of people covered continues to grow.

"It is part of the transition to universal coverage," he said.

More than two million people are covered by health insurance.

"A further significant change comes into effect from May 1 with the introduction of lifetime community rating, which is designed to encourage young people to take out health insurance at an earlier age," Mr Varadkar said.

Anxiety

Meanwhile, the threat of redundancy and disciplinary issues are causing anxiety to Irish workers, according to new figures from health insurer VHI.

The company's employee assistance programmes dealt with more than 900 calls last month.

It is a confidential workplace-focused programme that organisations buy as a benefit to employees to help in the identification and resolution of particular personal or work-related concerns.

The service, which is provided to 500 companies nationwide, is accessed through a freephone number where callers receive specialist support from counsellors and advisers.

"Nearly 70pc of those accessing the service last month were women, and the top issues arising were work-related pressure s, anxiety and depression and family and relationship problems," VHI said.

"The service sees an increase in calls relating to depression brought on by work stress or career dissatisfaction, as well as difficulties in relationships or marriages."

fdillon@herald.ie

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