Over-60s stay with private health

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The Independent Online
The abolition of tax relief on private health insurance for the over-sixties has not led to the mass exodus insurers predicted, Government sources said yesterday. Reports yesterday estimated as many as 100,000 people had given up their private medical cover since the Chancellor Gordon Brown announced the cuts in the July Budget. However, a Health Department spokesperson dismissed the figure as "fantasy".

The relief, granted at 23 per cent of the basic rate of tax, had cost the Treasury pounds 140m a year, according to Mr Brown. The Conservatives claimed this saving would be wiped out as more elderly people gave up their premiums and opted to use the NHS. But the spokesperson said that the Chancellor would be pouring pounds 1.2bn into the NHS over the coming year, adding that the Government had no indication that waiting lists had been affected by the Chancellor's move. A spokesperson for Bupa, the biggest health insurance company, commented that not as many patients as projected were dropping their cover. A spokesman for PPP Healthcare said that one in two people were expressing concern at the rise in premiums, but an exact figure had not been established at how many would give up.