Bord Gáis and Aviva to raise prices

Hard-pressed families face soaring health insurance premiums and higher energy costs from the middle of this month — with worse to come.

Both Bord Gáis and Aviva are hiking their prices from Oct 15, while new government levies will push health insurance costs up a further €200 a year for the average family.

Any rise will come on top of a spate of recent increases, as health cover costs have gone up five times in less than two years.

This month, Aviva is due to increase its premiums by up to 7%, which will cost families an additional €150 a year. That is set to spark a new round of rises from VHI, Laya, and Glo Health.

The Department of Health is introducing extra levies on health cover from January as part of a scheme designed to ensure that everyone pays the same, no matter their age or state of health.

From Jan 1, there will be four separate rates — for adults, children, people with cover for public hospitals only, and people with private hospital plans.

The increase is likely to force more people out of the health insurance market.

Of more immediate concern is the decision by Aviva Health Insurance to raise its premiums again. From Oct 15, clients of Aviva will face increases of 4%-7% on plans. The increases will add €53 to the Level 2 Health Excess plan, bringing it from €883 a year per person to €936.

The Consumers Association of Ireland hit out at the “extraordinary” number of increases by Aviva. The firm increased premiums for many customers by 2.7% in May, after a 15% increase in March, and increases of 14% and 9% last year.

Aviva sought to justify the latest increase by saying that claims paid out had increased by 30% in the first half of 2012.

The rise in health insurance premiums comes as consumers face yet another hike in the cost of energy.

From Oct 15, Bord Gáis Energy is to increase its residential electricity prices — shortly after it hiked up the price of gas.

The 4.8% increase will add €61 a year to the average household bill when the PSO levy is included.

According to Bord Gáis, the charge is being driven by an increase in transmission and distribution charges, and a jump in the cost of wholesale gas.

“Bord Gáis Energy regrets having to introduce this price increase which is due to factors beyond our control,” said Dave Kirwan, managing director.

Airtricity is set to increase its prices by 4.7% and Electric Ireland by 5.9%.

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