Families hit with 24pc hike as VHI says it's trying to keep prices down
STATE-owned VHI insists it is keeping premium hikes to a minimum despite another double-digit price rise.
The company is to increase the cost of two of its plans next month, with one going up by 24pc for a family, the Irish Independent has learnt.
It is the fourth separate rise this year the VHI has imposed on different plans.
And it is ending the half-price offer for children on two family plans from the start of next month – on the One Plan Family and Parents & Kids Excess plans.
The latest price hikes come just weeks after the VHI was praised by Health Minister James Reilly for keeping rises on family-type plans to 3pc.
However, despite the rises, a spokeswoman for the VHI insisted the average price increase across all its plans was still around 3pc.
This is despite the cost of 10 corporate plans rising by up to 11pc next month.
And the VHI previously increased its popular Teachers and Nurses plans by 6pc at the start of March, a move that has pushed up the cost per adult by up to €290 annually.
Two more corporate plans are rising in price from May 1.
The PMI 30 12 corporate plan will jump in cost by almost 24pc for a family, a move that will mean two adults and two children will be hit by an extra €753 a year in premiums.
A rise of 11pc for the VHI PMI 28 12 will see the cost for a family jump by €347 a year, according to calculations by Dermot Goode of Health InsuranceSavings.ie
Corporate plans are available to anyone who asks for them, but are designed by insurers to be sold to companies that take out cover for their workers. These plans tend to be better value and have more benefits than standard policies.
A spokeswoman for the VHI said: "These plans did not have a price increase in 2014. There are very few people on these plans."
And she pointed out that the average rise across all plans was 3pc, despite some plans going up by eight times that amount.
The second-largest insurer in the market, Laya, also pushed up premiums on its Essential Connect Family plan by 17pc for a family, in a move that will see two adults and two children paying an additional €363 if they renew or switch to that plan from May 1.
Laya is also introducing a co-payment for certain orthopaedic procedures – hip and knee – carried out in private hospitals from the start of next month.
Five procedures will be affected and the co-payment will only apply if they are performed in either the Beacon Hospital or Galway Clinic.
The level of co-payment had not been made clear, but it was likely to be in the region of €2,000 when performed in a private hospital, Mr Goode said.
He added that the premium increase meant people needed to move plans every year.
"These latest developments prove that any special offers or corporate deals are really for 12 months only.
"However, doing your research and monitoring developments prior to your renewal can still save you thousands of euro."