Experts warn failure to shop around could be costly with health insurance hikes on the way

A health insurance expert has warned of more health insurance hikes in January and says that failure to shop around could prove very costly, especially for families.

Experts warn failure to shop around could be costly with health insurance hikes on the way

Health insurance analyst Dermot Goode of www.totalhealthcover.ie said some premiums had increased by up to 14% this year.

About 45% of the private health insurance population is due to renew their cover in the first three months of the new year.

Mr Goode said families could save between €1,000 and €2,200 and adults up to €600 on certain plans by taking time out over Christmas to get their health insurance in order

“Almost 20% of health insurance members will renew in January alone — that’s a staggering 400,000 people,” he said.

Insurers give people four weeks’ advanced notice of their renewal details so those who do not do their homework could find themselves with a costly dated contract.

“Some may consider cancelling their cover, but this should be an absolute last resort as the necessity to have private health insurance is at an all-time high,” he said.

While premiums have increased there is still some good value on the market with all insurers offering special offers, discounts, and valuable corporate plans.

“Given that there are now more than 400 plans available to all consumers, it should be possible in most cases to reduce your healthcare costs,” he said.

Mr Goode was asked about the Consumer Price Index from the CSO for November showing a 0.5% increase in health insurance costs over the previous 12 months.

He said such averages from the CSO, or any other source, could not be relied on because consumers needed to examine the increase on their specific plan.

“Most consumers are going to see an increase of anything from 2% to 10%, depending on what plan they are on. There would be a very small group that would see no increase in their cover,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Vhi Group said it announced an average price increase of 2% across its insurance plans in September that came into effect at the start of November.

“The price increase in November was the first in 20 months and was necessary to cover the rising costs of our customer’s claims,” she said.

The general manager of Cornmarket’s health insurance division, Dermot Wells, said it was still possible to reduce premiums without compromising cover.

There are new plans priced to win new business but consumers must pick up the phone.

A spokeswoman for Aviva Ireland said premiums on 20 plans, including some of its most popular plans, had not increased and reductions had been made on some family plans.

Laya recently announced a price freeze across a range of schemes for up to two years and a price reduction of between 4% and 10% for adults and between 5% and 10% for children across four schemes.

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