Date Uploaded: 26/01/2017
Thousands of international students based in Ireland face dramatic hikes in health insurance because their policies are deemed to be in breach of the law.
Irish immigration services require that students from outside the European Economic Area take out a basic health cover for emergency medical expenses, which costs between €40 to €150 per year.
However, the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) has told insurers in recent weeks that full-time international students based in the State for more than a year are required to have full health cover. This typically costs between €500 and €1,000.
The authority has directed one of the biggest providers of this insurance to cease selling basic health policies to these students by March 3rd.
There are more than 20,000 international students from outside the European Economic Area in Irish universities or institutes of technology, while a further 100,000 are learning English in private colleges.
The hike in insurance comes as the Government is seeking to increase the number of international students by more than 25 per cent over the next four years. This is aimed at raising up to €2 billion for the economy.
However, senior figures in higher education say a hike in fees for thousands of students would represent a “big blow” to its plans to attract more students.
In a statement, a spokesman for the HIA said health insurers selling contracts to people “ordinarily resident in the State” are required to comply with health insurance legislation .
“The HIA is of the opinion that ‘ordinarily resident’ in the State in respect of non-EEA students means attending a course of study of more than one academic year’s duration,” the spokesman said.
Journalist: Carl O'Brien, Brian Mooney