VHI's rivals ring in new year with market worries
JUST a few days into January and it's already proving to be an unhappy new year for the country's four health insurers.
They are upset at moves to bring in new, permanent levies on every policy sold.
Health Minister James Reilly will introduce the new, higher levies on health policies in March to compensate the VHI for having the majority of older, more expensive, customers.
Dr Reilly had promised that those with cheaper policies would only have to pay a small additional levy.
Now it has emerged that the cost to a family of two adults and two children for a basic health plan will jump from €760 at present to €940.
The fact that there are levies at all upsets Laya, Aviva and new player GloHealth.
The VHI is the big winner here.
The situation where it is not regulated yet is state-owned rankles with its rivals.
But even more upsetting for the VHI's rivals is that all policies – even those that cost an adult just over €500 a year – will attract the highest levy of €350 per adult policy.
The fear is that thousands of people who have basic plans will now be hit with huge hikes in premiums, and will give up their health cover.
Already 188,000 have ditched health cover since the downturn.
The nation's health insurers will now be forced to radically rejig their basic policies if a mass exodus from health cover is not to be a feature of this year.