Families facing dismal start to 2012 with VHI, Aviva price hikes
THE VHI is expected to announce price hikes of at least 15pc for consumer health plans at the start of next month.
And yesterday Aviva became the latest health insurer to hike its prices, in a move that will mean a typical family will end up paying €400 extra a year.
Aviva said all plans were going up by 15pc, with the higher price on consumer plans taking effect from February 15 and the higher price of corporate plans taking effect from March 1.
This is the third time in a year that the insurer has increased the price of some its plans. The company has 380,000 healthcare customers.
The cost of all health policies went up by 14pc in March. And the popular Level 2 Hospital plan increased by 9.5pc in September.
Broker Patrick Brennan of Irish Health Insurance said the annual cost of a Level 2 Hospital policy would now shoot up by almost €410 a year for two adults and two children.
The annual cost will jump from €2,730 to €3,139 for those renewing from February 15.
The company blamed medical inflation and increased demand among consumers for healthcare procedures.
Moves in the Budget to increase the cost of private beds in public hospitals were also cited as a reason for the premium rises.
Aviva said it understood that consumers were under financial pressure and stressed that it was doing its best to cut costs.
A statement from the company said this latest increase does not take account of threats from Health Minister James Reilly to make insurers pay up if a policyholder uses an accident and emergency service in a public hospital.
Meanwhile, Dermot Goode of Healthinsurancesavings.ie said he now expects the VHI's consumer plans to jump by at least 15pc in price, with an announcement likely on January 2 or 3.
The move was expected after it was revealed in the Irish Independent yesterday that the VHI is to increase the cost of its corporate plans by 15pc between now and early January.
Last year, state-owned VHI pushed up the cost of consumer policies by between 15pc and 45pc. This meant the cost of Plan B Options rose by €444 per adult over a year. And last month there was a 2pc rise in VHI premiums.
A second round of increases next year is a strong possibility if Mr Reilly acts on proposals to bring in a system where anyone with private health insurance would be charged for using a public hospital.
This would mean even those who use an accident and emergency ward in a public hospital would be charged.
Mr Reilly has insisted that health insurers can generate the savings to counteract these charges by reducing the payments to hospitals and consultants for procedures.
However, the VHI has claimed this move could force it to hike its policies by up to 50pc.
Around 53,000 people have already given up their private health cover this year, due to high premiums and shrinking incomes.
Last week, Quinn Healthcare was forced to defend itself after it emerged that some of its plans were due to increase by 21pc from next year.