Families face shock as '20pc' health cover rise could be double that
A NUMBER of health insurance policies are rising by more than double the level indicated.
Laya is pushing through hikes of up to 40pc – twice what it said they would be, the Irish Independent has learnt.
And some of the VHI rises announced last week are higher than indicated.
Insurance experts accused the four players in the market of attempting to under-play the true extent of rises.
Dermot Goode of Health insurancesavings.ie said: "This is a new tactic being employed by all the health insurers to mask the full impact of their rate increases."
In the past week, state-owned VHI announced average hikes of 3pc to take effect from the start of March.
And Laya said it was pushing up its premiums by 20pc from next month also.
But it has now emerged that some Laya plans are rising by 35pc, with others going up by 40pc.
Calculations by Mr Goode show the Laya HealthWise Plus No Excess plan will rise by €1,189 in March – an increase of 40pc – for a family of two adults and two children.
And the Laya Connect Care plan will jump by close to €1,000, a rise of 35pc.
Other plans will rise by less, Mr Goode said.
And the VHI's Family Plan Plus will go up by 8pc for a family from March, despite the company insisting last week that the highest rise would be 6pc, with the average just 3pc.
A spokeswoman for the VHI insisted its top rise was no more than 6.5pc, and the average price increase across the plans is 3pc.
It claimed that the rises worked out higher because of the impact of changes to the tax reliefs applied to health insurance policies.
"The reason for the premium increase which impacts the customers, being different to the increase VHI implemented, is as a result of the new TRS (tax relief at source) change introduced."
A spokeswoman for Laya conceded that some of its plans were going up by 41pc.
"Our highest level of increase will be 35pc – taking into account the government change to tax relief at source, the net increase for the member is 41pc – on the HealthWise Plus No Excess scheme."
But she insisted that only a tiny percentage of customers would be affected by the increase on HealthWise Plus No Excess scheme, and claimed it was still cheaper than VHI's Plan B No Excess plan.
"We understand that cost and affordability are front of mind and, as such, we have kept price increases to a minimum on some of our most popular plans," the Laya spokeswoman said.
GloHealth has also announced rises from March.
It said it would pass on the higher levy imposed on all policies by the Government.
This will increase adult plans by €49 each, and children's premiums by €15 each.
GloHealth's policies already went up 5pc at the start of January.
The expectation in the market is that Aviva will announce a second premium rise next week.