Tuesday 21 November 2017

Exclusive: Leading health insurer to raise prices yet again

Laya is to increase its prices Photo: Getty Images
Laya is to increase its prices Photo: Getty Images
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

HEALTH insurer Laya is set to raise prices for the fourth time in less than two years.

From April, the premiums on plans will rise by an average of almost 6pc.

The rises will impact on 124 plans.

Laya is the second-largest health insurer in the country, it has around 500,000 customers.

It is the fourth time the cost of Laya health cover will have risen in 16 months.

Health insurance experts estimate the move will cost an average family an extra €150 a year.

The cost of cover was pushed up by Laya as recently as the start of this year.

The company is blaming the fact that public hospitals are charging insurers when people with cover are treated in HSE-run hospitals, even if they do not get a private room or access to a private consultant.

This is now costing insurers €200m a year, despite Government promises when it was introduced it would cost no more than €30m a year.

Health insurance expert Dermot Goode said: “This is the fourth increase imposed by Laya in the space of 16 months, and I would say it is not the last.”

Insurers are also seeing larger numbers of the people they cover claim for more private hospital procedures, a consequence of long waiting lists in public hospitals.

Laya managing director Dónal Clancy said patients who use a public hospital are being asked to sign form if they have health cover. If they sign, their insurer is charged €800 a night, rather than €80 a night, even though they are using public hospital facilities.

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 that Laya is reducing prices across the Assure Suite of products by an average of 3.2pc of the gross premium.

Free kids cover for second and subsequent children will be re-introduced across seven schemes including the popular Flex 175 Explore scheme.

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