Revealed: Families face hikes of up to €480 to renew on same health insurance policies
Families face double-digit increases in the cost of their health insurance when the majority of them renew in the coming months.
An analysis of increases announced by the two largest players - VHI and Laya - shows that the cumulative rises are 10pc, three times more than the 3pc increases consumers have been expecting.
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.
The rises will mean families of two adults and two children being asked to pay up to €480 more on some plans, according to an analysis by health insurance expert Dermot Goode.
Some of the cumulative rises are up to 13pc.
Mr Goode, of TotalHealthCover.ie, looked at recent announcements made by Laya and VHI. These two insure around 75pc of the market.
"The cumulative effective increase is approximately 10pc and higher in some cases to consumers which is a far cry from the '3pc average' figures that consumers expect," he said.
In September VHI said its customers were facing an average 3pc hike in insurance premiums from the beginning of November. And Laya announced single-digit rises in March and again in July.
Mr Goode added: "It is not that the companies are trying to hood-wink people, but the creeping effect of multiple small increases means people will be hit with rises of 10pc, 11pc and 13pc."
The cumulative increases mean VHI's Health Plus Access (the old Plan B) will go up by 10pc for adults and 11pc for children. This will make it €460 dearer to renew on this plan from the end of this year.
The One Plan Family will be €250 more expensive for a family, with the Family Plan Plus Level 1 set to be €482 dearer.
The VHI's Health Plus Premium plan will go up by €656 for a family.
But what Mr Goode said was a good corporate plan, PMI 3613, is not going up.
Laya's Health Smart plan will be €466 more expensive at the end of this year for a family, with the Flex 250 Explore set to be €228 dearer. And the Essential Plus Excess plan will go up by €344 for a family.
Mr Goode added: "You do not have to accept these increases. Just take a good corporate plan like VHI's PMI 3613, which is not going up.
"So, it is possible to avoid the increases by shopping around and getting advice," he said.
Insurers blame charges imposed by public hospitals on people who have private health insurance who go into hospital, whether they get private treatment or not.
The yield from the private charges was €150m last year, way above Government claims it would only be €30m a year.
A VHI spokeswoman said it sought to keep the price increase as low as possible without compromising on cover.
"The main reason for the price increases is the rising cost of claims and in particular the rising costs of claims in public hospitals."