Around 30,000 people have cancelled their health insurance cover over the past 12 months.
Latest market figures compiled by the Health Insurance Authority show 2,018,000 people had health insurance plans last September, compared to 2,046,525 during the same month in 2013.
The market peaked at almost 2.3m at the end of 2008, with the number of insurance holders falling every year since then.
Over the 12 months to September, 28,525 people dropped their insurance cover.
There was an increase of 1,000 people taking out health insurance between July and September, but a health insurance expert has described this as “temporary relief”.
Health analyst with totalhealthcover.ie, Dermot Goode, reckons thousands of people will leave the market in the early part of next year.
About 200,000 people who are due to renew their cover in January had missed substantial price increases last February and March.
On some plans the increases were over 20%.
“While it looks like there is another 1,000 people in the marketplace, what’s going on behind all these figures is pretty much everybody who has health insurance had downgraded their cover to some degree.
“While the increase is welcome it reflects performance figures over the quietest time of the year. It looks like the numbers have stabilised but it will be a temporary relief, unfortunately. There will be a further reduction in the numbers in the New Year.”
Earlier this month, Health Minister Leo Varadkar announced measures to contain the rate of increase in private health insurance.
The level of stamp duty paid by insurers is to be frozen from March next year and reduced in some cases.
The levy paid to fund the Health Insurance Authority will also be reduced from 2015.
Proposed legislation published earlier this month will also contain previously announced plans to have discounted insurance plans for young people aged between 18 and 25.
And from next May there will also be a loading on people over the age of 35 who take out cover for the first time and on those with a long-time gap in coverage.
“I think we are going to see a further contraction in the marketplace in quarter one next year,” said Mr Goode. “Unfortunately, measures to be introduced by Mr Varadkar could not be introduced soon enough to stop the continuing outward flow.”
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