Levy on the aged?

Apart from the incessant increases in health insurance premiums, it is more than obvious that we face huge challenges in funding and providing an equitable, easily-accessed health service.

The reforms proposed by Minister for Health James Reilly are designed to break the logjam that too often keeps sick people waiting far too long for treatment. The proposals would commendably bring an end to our two-tier system through a mandatory insurance scheme. At least, that is the intention.

One of the proposals that seems counter to the idea of equity and social responsibility is that individuals might have to pay more for cover as they get older. Already, there are suggestions that older people who want anything beyond the basic level of care, or to sustain the level of cover they already enjoy, will face either an extraordinary increase in premiums or new charges. If this is so, this proposal could well scuttle the entire project because it seems to fly in the face of all of the principles of the unspoken contract at the root of all decent universal social schemes.


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