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Sunday 26 March 2017

€700 health cover hikes for families

Experts say health insurers imposing two price rises a year

Jim Dowdall, the Glohealth chief executive
Jim Dowdall, the Glohealth chief executive
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Families face a hike of up to €700 in health insurance costs within weeks - with additional price rises on the way later in the year.

Laya and GloHealth are both hiking prices, just a week after VHI announced rises.

The moves will see average families facing rises of €300, with some plans going up in price by as much as €700 a year.

Experts said health insurers were now imposing two price increases every year.

Laya, which has around 500,000 customers and is headed by Donal Clancy, is pushing up the price of its popular Essential Connect Family plan by 14pc.

This will mean a family of two adults and two children will see the cost of the plan go up by €272 when they renew on it from May 1.

Laya is also ending its free cover for second and subsequent children on seven plans from May 1.

The premiums on 17 GloHealth plans are going up from May 1, with average rises of 6pc, but some plans going up by 10pc.

Aviva is reducing the prices on some plans, but has also hiked the cost for children on a number of schemes and ended discounted child prices, according to Dermot Wells of the health insurance division of Cornmarket.

"For a family of two adults and two kids, depending on the plan and provider, these changes could see an increase in premiums of up to €700," Mr Wells said.

GloHealth's Better and Best plans are increasing by 8pc, with the Ultimate scheme increasing by 7pc. The increases across the Net plans are between 6pc and 7pc.

Average families face paying anything from €88 more for the Basic plan to €326 more for the Best plan, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.

Most of VHI's one million customers face a price increase from next month, lifting the cost of some family plans rise by nearly €144 a year. The hikes, which average 3pc but will be as much as 6pc for some plans, come after its last increase of up to 5pc in November.

Mr Goode said health insurers were being hit hard by the decision of former Health Minister James Reilly to charge insurers when an insured person uses a public hospital, even when they are not treated privately. This means insurers were hit with bills for €800 for each over-night stay, instead of €75, he said.

Mr Wells said smaller but more frequent price increases were being applied by all insurers in the hope the rises would go under the radar.

"Expect more of the same later in the year but these increases can be avoided by shopping around," he said.

A spokeswoman for GloHealth said it was changing the prices on 17 of its 45 hospital plans. This increase is due to the rising cost of providing medical care and the increasing level of claims experienced by all health insurers, the spokeswoman said.

A Laya spokeswoman said it would encourage any member with questions regarding their scheme to get in touch.

"At Laya Healthcare we constantly keep our prices under review to ensure that we can continue to offer our members great value and innovative benefits. In the past six months alone we have introduced free kids cover across seven schemes and reintroduced a prize freeze across a range of schemes."

Irish Independent

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