Less than 50pc now have health insurance
The numbers of people with private health insurance fell by 34,000 in the first nine months of the year, new figures revealed yesterday.
It means that, for the first time in years, the percentage of the population who are covered by insurance has fallen below 50pc.
The latest figures from the Health Insurance Authority show that 49.8pc now have insurance compared to 50.8pc this time last year.
Overall, the numbers covered have fallen from 2.265 million in September 2009 to 2.227 million during the same month this year. The numbers dropped by 17,000 in the first three months of the year when many policies came up for renewal.
There was another fall of 10,000 between April and June but the 7,000 dip in the three months to September represents a slowing down of the trend.
However, with premiums set to rise again next year, thousands more are expected to decide against renewal.
The cost of insurance will come under more pressure following next month's Budget when the cost of private facilities in public hospitals will be increased by the Department of Health.