Health insurance cost drops slightly as more enter market

There was a slight decrease in average private health insurance premiums last year, it has emerged.

Health insurance cost drops slightly as more enter market

Average premium levels fell by 2.2% — from €1,200 per person in 2014, to €1,173 at the end of March 2015, according to figures from the Health Insurance Authority.

There were 2.1m people insured with in-patient health insurance plans at the end of March this year — an increase of 95,000 over the past 12 months.

The private health insurance market peaked at almost 2.3m at the end of 2008. At the end of March, 46% of the population had private health insurance, compared to 51% in 2008.

However, there has been some levelling off in the rate of increase in the number of people with health insurance plans since the introduction of lifetime community rating in May last year.

Lifetime community rating introduced an age-related loading on premiums of 2% for each year of age over 34 years for those taking out private health insurance for the first time.

Health insurance analyst Dermot Goode of totalhealthcover.ie said while average premiums had dropped slightly, four out of five consumers were still insured on the wrong plans and could get even better value if they renewed their cover annually.

Mr Goode said insurers were back to increasing their rates almost every six months on some plans and that was influencing those thinking or re-joining or entering the market.

“When you strip out the increased membership after the lifetime community rating event last year, there really has been no movement in the market, which is disappointing,” he said.

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