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VHI price rises run at 12 times inflation rate

VHI Healthcare's price hikes are now running at more than 12 times the rate of inflation.

The insurer, which announced last Thursday it was jacking up the cost of its private health insurance by as much as 45 per cent this year, has increased its prices by 322 per cent in total over the past 10 years, according to Aongus Loughlin, a private health insurance expert with Towers Watson.

Ireland's total inflation rate for the past 10 years is about 26 per cent, according to the latest official figures.

This means VHI customers are being hit with price rises that are about 12 times higher than average.

"If prices keep going like this, community rating (where everyone pays the same for similar private health insurance, regardless of their age) will die," says Mr Loughlin, head of healthcare and risk consulting with Towers Watson. "We will have a market where people will have to pay for health insurance depending on how old or sick they are -- and people simply won't be able to afford health insurance anymore."

Almost 400,000 VHI customers will see the price of their health insurance increase by between 35 and 45 per cent this year. Six out of 10 VHI customers will see the price of their insurance increase by 15 per cent.

The chief executive of VHI, Jimmy Tolan, said increased healthcare costs, including the 21 per cent increase in the cost of private beds in public hospitals, were largely behind the price rise.

"We regret having to implement this very difficult pricing decision," said Mr Tolan.

Sunday Indo Business