Private health insurance costs rose 8% last year

Private health insurance premiums rose almost 8% over the past year. Premiums were 7.7% higher last month, compared to January 2016, according to the latest Consumer Price Index from the Central Statistics Office.

There is concern that last month’s increase in public hospital charges will push up premiums even higher.

The in-patient cost has risen from €75 to €80 a night, an increase of almost 7% but does not apply to medical card holders and some other patient categories.

Health Minister Simon Harris has already approved a 10% increase in the levy applied to all health policies from April that will also have a knock-on effect on premiums.

Health insurance expert Dermot Goode has said that many people wrongly believed public hospital treatment was free because it was funded by their taxes.

There were 2.1m people with inpatient private health insurance plans at the end of December, an increase of 30,000 over the past year. The market peaked at almost 2.3m at the end of 2008.

The Health Insurance Authority, which confirmed the market figures yesterday, says that 46% of the population have health insurance, compared to the 2008 peak of 51%.

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