herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

Reilly screws middle class

UNDERFIRE Health Minister James Reilly was today accused of screwing Ireland's hardpressed middle class. Reilly has poured more misery on families by driving up exorbitant health insurance by another €220.

His decision has caused bafflement in Cabinet as workers already struggled to cope with a raft other stealth taxes.

"This will backfire.What the hell is he thinking?" warned a fellow Minister.

“They should make the running and turn around to Minister Reilly and say we can’t take this. They would have the backing of all their members,” said chief Dermot Jewell.

Mr Jewell described the levy as “an extraordinary sum, a phenomenal amount of money” which was simply “unacceptable and not good enough”.

He felt it was “inevitable” that the health insurers would pass the new additional cost on to their members.

The levy will go from €205 per adult to €285, with immediate effect. The levy on children's policies will rise from €66 to €95 – a 44pc hike.

Up to 60,000 people are thought to have ended their health insurance since last year's rises.

Minister Reilly told the Herald today: “Health insurance has become harder to afford for older people as insurers increasingly tailor their insurance plans towards younger, healthier customers.”



‘HYPOCRISY’

Fianna Fail Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher today accused the Minister of “hypocrisy” and “breathtaking arrogance”, adding: “He was an expert at giving great performances when in opposition but what he has done now is put the welfare and health of families at extreme risk.

“The decision is heartless,” he said.

Minister Reilly told the Herald today: “The Government is strongly committed to protecting community rating whereby older and sicker customers should pay the same amount for the same cover as young healthier people. These changes are designed to help achieve this.”

His words are in stark contrast with a statement he issued this week last year when portraying himself as a champion of the ordinary family.

At the time he criticised health insurance hikes, saying: “Just as the full impact of Budget 2011 is hitting pay packets and the children's allowance has been slashed, families are now being asked to pay for the cost of recapitalising the VHI after years of government inaction.”

Now as middle-income families are reeling from an austere Budget 2012 that included levies on home and motor insurance, hikes in road tax, VAT rises, a household charge and more cuts to child benefit, the now-Minister Reilly has hit them unexpectedly.

A spokesman for the Minister, responding to questions about the Minister's comments while in opposition, argued that insurers have “ample room” to reduce costs and the Minister has “an absolute drive” to lower the overall costs of insurance.

A shocked Aviva, which has around 460,000 customers, had anticipated the levy would go up, but not by 40pc.



hnews@herald.ie

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