Sunday 20 August 2017

Families to be hit with fresh rises in cost of health cover

Irish Life Health boss Jim Dowdall. Photo: Tom Burke
Irish Life Health boss Jim Dowdall. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Families are facing paying more for health insurance after it emerged that a third provider is pushing up the cost of its premiums.

Health insurer Irish Life, which took over Glo and Aviva Health recently, is pushing up prices by an average of 6pc.

The policies going up were originally issued by Glo, with the move set to cost families up to €150 a year more on popular schemes.

The move to increase the cost of GloHealth plans comes as they are being rebranded as Irish Life Health plans after the takeover of the company earlier this year.

Irish Life Health boss Jim Dowdall blamed higher charges imposed by the Government for those with health insurance using public hospitals.

The higher prices take effect from December 1. This means those taking out the plans that are going up, or those renewing their cover on these plans, will end up paying more.

The popular mid-level Better Plan will rise in price from €1,523 a year to €1,653, which is a rise of €130, or 9pc, for one adult.

But the impact on a family will be lessened because the child rate is coming down.

A family of two adults and two children will see the price rise to close to €4,000 a year. This is a rise of €146, or 4pc for the family.

The entry-level Basic Plan will cost a family close to €2,000 a year from December, a rise of €93, or 5pc.

Some plans will see their costs rise by 23pc, while there are small reductions in the cost of other plans, according to health insurance expert Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.

Members using a public hospital had previously been charged €75 a night - but that figure has now soared to €800 a night if they are treated as a private patient with health insurance.

In a statement Glo/Irish Life Health said: "Since 2015 this inflated charge has directly resulted in a 7pc increase in claims costs faced by private health insurers."

It said patients with private health insurance had already paid for public health through their taxes "so they are in fact being double charged by public hospitals which have raised over €150m per annum by applying this charge".

In 2014 legislation was introduced allowing public hospitals charge patients with private health cover.

VHI and Laya have already announced price rises.

A recent analysis of the increases announced by the two insurers showed that the cumulative rises were 10pc, three times more than the 3pc increases consumers had expected.

This is because health insurers are now announcing a number of small rises throughout the year, and when added up they amount to higher rises as insurance is renewed annually.

Irish Independent

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