Quinn denies customers misled
HEALTHCARE insurer Quinn admitted last night that the cost of some of its policies would rise by up to 22pc -- even though it claimed two weeks ago the hikes would be an average of 12pc.
Consumers have contacted the Irish Independent to complain about much larger hikes than those outlined by the company a fortnight ago.
Quinn insisted last night it had not tried to mislead customers. A spokeswoman for Quinn Healthcare admitted that the cost of some plans was due to jump by more than 22pc for those renewing from January 1.
A family of two adults, two children and a student who are renewing their Essential Plus policy will end up paying €3,767 from next month.
This is 21pc, or €666 a year, more expensive than it was for this plan in 2011.
The Health Manager plan is set to be 19pc more expensive, as is the Compare Care (Excess) plan.
Quinn insisted it was not misleading its customers and that it was using a system of looking at the average rise in premiums. It stressed that its Essential Gold policy that is popular with families was going up by 8.87pc.
It pointed out that it had 44 different plans and it was not practical to outline the exact rise for each one.
It is the third hike imposed by the company in just over a year. Quinn has around 500,000 healthcare customers.
More hikes are expected next year after Health Minister James Reilly announced he was planning to introduce a system where anyone with private health insurance would end up being charged for using a public hospital.
This would mean even those patients who used an accident and emergency ward in a public hospital would end up having to pay.
The minister has insisted that health insurers could generate savings to counteract these charges by reducing the payments to hospitals and consultants for medical procedures.
But the VHI has claimed this move could force it to hike its policies by up to 50pc. Thousands more people are expected to give up health cover again this year, because of rising premiums.
In the first nine months of the year, 53,000 people dropped their cover, according to figures from the Health Insurance Authority, the independent regulator of the private health insurance market in Ireland.
A total of 123,000 people have opted out of private health cover since 2008, the figures show.
Some 2.17 million people have medical insurance.
The number of people insured has been in decline since it peaked at almost 2.3 million at the end of 2008.