Labour General Election candidate Dr Jerry Cowley is calling on the Equality Authority to address what he has dubbed “the blatant discrimination” against older people by VHI who have raised their premium levels for older people.
In some cases the premium hikes amount to 45 per cent, said Dr Cowley who has asked the Equality Authority to investigate whether VHI is open to legal challenge.
“Insurance policies cannot by law include additional premium weighing on age grounds, but by singling out policies mainly bought by older people, it seems to me VHI is engaging in indirect and possible direct discrimination against older people. This is unacceptable to me and must be challenged,” he added.
The Labour Party are proposing that a public health insurer, which would compete with VHI and other private health insurers, be set up. According to Dr Cowley the Labour Party have been making such proposals since 2001. The scheme would be called Universal Health Insurance which means everyone would be obliged to have health insurance offering free GP care and access to hospital services. Those who already have a medical card will have their health insurance automatically paid for them. Everyone else will pay their private insurance as before or this payment will be subsidised depending on their means. If people like their existing health insurer they can stick with it.
“This system of universal health insurance proposed by Labour since 2001 means that the discriminatory two-tier health system will finally come to an end as everyone will be the same and will be treated equally. There will be only one queue, which will depend on your medical need only, not the power of your pocket. All hospitals will compete for your custom as the money follows the patient, and the more they see you and treat you, the more money they make. This will drive competition,” explained Dr Cowley.