The Council has stated that the proposed changes to tax relief at source introduced by Budget 2014 will have a significant negative impact on the Irish health insurance market, which is already facing significant challenges.

The Council, which includes the State’s four main insurers, moved to correct the Government’s claim that the change would affect only “gold-plated” policies and confirmed that, based on its own industry data, nine in ten adult private health insurance customers and over 90% of plans will be affected by the change.

The Council stated that the actual number of customers impacted will exacerbate issues of sustainability and affordability in the market at a time when the market is already significantly contracting. In the Council's opinion, the removal of the tax relief means that net premiums will inevitably increase.

The Council’s view is that the proposal may potentially drive more people out of the private health insurance market; provoke profound volatility that could destabilise the Irish health insurance market and jeopardise the eventual transition to universal health insurance, due to increased numbers of customers leaving the market.

The Council has called on the Minister to review the measure and consult with health insurers on the issue and has asked the Minister to, at the very least, postpone the implementation date of the change to 1 January 2014 in order to give health insurers more time to plan for its introduction.