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Order of Business

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Senator Sean D. Barrett

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

Yesterday, the Irish Independent carried a story on its front page which indicated that health insurance premiums would increase by €200 this year to cover the costs of looking after old people. I ask the Leader to raise with the Minister some of the efficiency issues Senators discussed with him last week. The Milliman review, which examined the issue of ageing by comparing data for 2010 and 2008, produced findings that contradict those published yesterday. The average age of VHI members has increased from 38 years to 38.5 years, the percentage of VHI members aged more than 65 years has increased from 13% to 14% and the percentage of those aged more than 80 years has increased from 2.8% to 3%. These figures are presented as justifying very large increases in premiums. However, the evidence presented on page 21 of the Milliman report suggests that while the ageing of the portfolio was a reasonably significant factor driving claims, it was not the most significant factor.
The Milliman review also found that VHI and hospitals have major efficiency issues. The Minister, in re-ordering the Health Service Executive, is starting out to make an efficiency gain. To achieve efficiency gains we must ensure the increase in premiums of €200 sought yesterday is not approved. Major issues arise with regard to VHI's monopoly. These problems and the high costs of Irish hospitals alluded to by other Senators should be tackled first. The basis for arguing that premiums are increasing as a result of the number of old people should be questioned. I hope the Leader takes up the matter with the Minister for Health.