Big rise in numbers buying health insurance

The number of people securing health insurance increased by 30,000 in the past year, it has emerged.

Latest figures from the Health Insurance Authority show 2.15m people have health insurance — 46% of the population.

The market is still below the 2008 peak when 51% of the population had private cover.

The average premium paid for inpatient health insurance last year was €1,177, compared to €1,173 in 2015 and €1,200 in 2014.

The figures are based on gross premium levels with child payments and young adult discounts lowering the average premium.

The HIA points out that an additional 102,000 people have insurance plans that only provide outpatient benefits or cash plans.

Health insurance premiums paid last year totalled €2.528m, an increase of 2.7% on 2015.

Laya Healthcare announced yesterday that premiums would be increased by an average of 6% on some schemes from July 1.

It blamed significant cost increases and the volume of claims from both private and public hospitals.

The company said claims relating to public hospitals had increased significantly over the last three years, largely as a result of the public bed charge.

There had been an overall increase of 38% in the cost of claims from hospitals, with a parallel increase of 27% in the volume of claims.

Managing director Donal Clancy said the company had tried to minimise the product review across their schemes.

It increased premiums across 124 plans ranging from 3.6% to 19.2% from April 1. Price reductions from 1.45% to 6.4% were introduced on four plans.

Laya Healthcare removed cover for Dublin’s Blackrock Clinic and the Mater Private on their flex range of plans from April 1, except for certain cardiac and orthopaedic procedures.

Irish Life Health, meanwhile, reduced the premiums of 10 schemes from May 1 by an average of 9%.

The company was established in August last year after Irish Life Group acquired Aviva Health Insurance Ireland.

The Irish Life Group also took 100% ownership of GloHealth in which it previously had a 49% shareholding.

GloHealth is not taking on new business but continues to look after its existing customers until their renewal dates.


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