GOVERNMENT plans to begin charging insured patients in public beds will add 20pc to 40pc to the cost of health insurance premiums, it was claimed today.
The executives of the main health insurance companies agreed that the plan, to be phased in over three years, marks a tipping point for the industry.
Currently, companies are not required to pay if one of their members is put in a public bed – but that will change in a phased basis in the next three years.
Donal Clancy, chief executive of Laya Healthcare estimated it would add 20-40pc to premiums, saying the extra cost to insurers represented a major threat.
He was appearing before the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children with the heads of the other health insurance companies.
“The Irish private health insurance is in the early stages of an upwards premium rate spiral which, if not reversed, will result in the market shrinking to a fraction of its current size.”
He said if the private health insurance market shrinks significantly, the proposed transition to universal health insurance becomes much more difficult.
It would also prove not to be cost effective to the Exchequer because private insurance would become more out of people’s reach and drive them back to the public system.