VHI is to hike premiums by an average 6pc for its 1.2 million customers.
This is the fifth increase by the country’s biggest health insurer in two years.
The Irish Patients Association warned today that many people simply cannot afford the increased premiums.
“Some industry sources suggest to us that around 5,000 people a month are leaving private health insurance,” Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients Association told the Evening Herald.
The most recent price rise was just last November when premiums were hiked by 3pc. Last March there increases of between 6pc and 12.5pc, while the previous November there was 1.9pc rise. It is the fifth rise in two years.
“The other concern is that by giving up health insurance, people are joining a queue of 350,000 and you could be waiting a long time for a first appointment with a consultant and eight or nine months for your operation,” said Mr McMahon.