Laya hikes premiums for third time this year
A health insurer is to put up the price of its premiums for the third time this year.
Laya Healthcare, which has around 500,000 customers, will increase prices by an average of 6pc from July.
The insurer raised rates in January and April. Around half of its plans are set to be impacted by the rise.
The cumulative impact of the three rises would mean a family with two adults and two children will face having to pay an extra €450 when they renew their cover, health insurance experts said.
Laya chief executive Dónal Clancy blamed the move by the Government to allow public hospitals to charge insurers when members use State hospitals, if they sign a waiver form.
This has seen the cost of claims from State hospitals rise by 37pc, he said.
"The sustained cost implications of the public bed re-designation charge is being felt by every health insurance provider in the market," he said.
"These charges will continue to drive the cost and volume of public hospital claims, with a negative knock-on impact on the cost of health cover," Mr Clancy added.
Broker Dermot Goode, of TotalHealthCare.ie, said the latest rise would cost a family of two adults and two children between €150 and €350, depending on their plan, when they renew their cover.
The cumulative impact of the three rises was likely to be at least €450, he said.
"This is unprecedented. We have not had a health insurer raising its premiums three times in seven months. Now the question is, will there be more?"
He called on Health Minister Simon Harris to carry through on his promise to review the public bed costs for insurers.
State-owned health insurer VHI last week reported bumper profits, just weeks after imposing a new price rise on its one million members.
The increase in premiums at the start of this month was the second in the past six months.
The company said it had made a net surplus of €56.4m last year.
Next month Irish Life Health is to raise its prices by an average of 3.2pc. But some plans will go up by double this amount.
The costs for a family of two adults and two children could increase by between €100 and €250, depending on the Irish Life Health plan held.
Both Laya and VHI have already increased their rates twice in the last six months.
Meanwhile, there has been another rise in the number of people with health insurance.
New figures show that 2.15 million people now have health insurance.
This is up 30,000 from a year ago, according to figures from the Health Insurance Authority, the regulator for the sector.
Another 102,000 people have cash plans, which pay them money if they have to go to hospital or to a GP.
The average premium for an inpatient health policy is now €1,177.
This is up by €4 from the average premium paid in 2015.