Press Release

Statement on the outcome of the Supreme Court Judgment relating to the Risk Equalisation Scheme by Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D.

Commenting on today’s Supreme Court decision (July 16, 2008), the Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney, T.D. said “We will take the time to study in depth the judgment of the Supreme Court in this matter and to assess the policy options that arise.

The Government’s objective in health insurance has been that it should be affordable for older and sicker people. Intergenerational solidarity in health insurance has always received widespread public and political support.

A substantial body of primary legislation and regulations have been introduced to support community rating since the Health Insurance Act 1994. These have been promoted by successive Governments. It is fair to say there has been a consensus for community rating and for the necessary mechanisms to support it, such as risk equalisation.

The risk equalisation scheme, which has been struck down today, was the financial mechanism to support community rating. Important policy issues now arise for consideration.

>I intend to assess all available options in the coming months, and consult with officials, the Attorney General and the Health Insurance Authority. There are complex financial, legal and policy matters involved which need time to be considered fully. I do not envisage any immediate decision on legislation.

Specifically, in relation to the VHI, the work to achieve authorisation by the Financial Regulator will continue”.