New Law to be debated next week could impact on International Students

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There is an important new law being debated next week in Dáil Éireann which could have an impact on international students.

The Health Insurance Amendment Bill 2019, which is looking at reforming part of the insurance industry, is due at Select Committee next Wednesday and ICOS is calling for all parties to support Deputy Louise O’Reilly TD (Sinn Fein)’s amendment which would seek to exclude overseas student insurance from the definition of a health insurance contract.

The reason this is important is because a recent Health Insurance Authority (HIA) decision has meant that specific insurance products that have been available to international students may no longer be available.

It is an immigration requirement for non-EEA students to hold medical insurance in order to ensure that they are not a burden on the State, however because the HIA have decided that non-EEA students studying in Ireland on courses of more than one academic year are "ordinarily resident", this means that they will be required to purchase ‘community-rated’ products instead of the current product. 

ICOS believes that this is unfair because;

  • Unlike the rest of the population, international students would have no option but to purchase community-rated health insurance.
  • Community rating is designed to ensure non-discrimination in a population over time. Most international students will not reside in Ireland long enough to benefit from community rating.
  • International students are not being treated in the same way as other temporary residents, such as temporary workers.
  • Up to 30,000 students who are currently in Ireland are at risk of significantly increased insurance costs. This include many English Language Students, who may not have the means to deal with a significant increase.
  • Insurance products currently used by students go beyond health and also includes repatriation. There is no like-for-like product available through community rated health insurance, meaning that students are likely to have worse cover than at present.  

ICOS believes that this additional cost could be a significant disincentive to international students who choose Ireland as a study destination. Irish educational institutions are increasingly reliant on international student fees to maintain their high standards of education, but more importantly ICOS is of the view that international students and interculturalism is a good thing for Ireland and Irish education.

ICOS is part of the Alliance for Affordable Insurance for International Students (AAIIS), who are working together to highlight this issue before it impacts international students. The other AAIIS members are Dublin Business School, Marketing English in Ireland, Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA), Chubb, National College of Ireland (NCI), Griffith College, Study & Protect (formerly O’Driscoll O’Neil), Union of Students in Ireland, University of Limerick.



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