Health insurer Laya is to impose massive increases on the prices of some of its plans.
One of the plans is going up by 26pc, in what is one of the largest rises in the cost of a private health insurance premium in years. Other plans are going up by between 16pc and 19pc, the Irish Independent has learned.
The rises are due to be implemented from the start of next month.
They come just months after the health insurance market got a massive fillip from thousands of new subscribers.
Some 74,000 members took up health cover before May to avoid loadings being imposed on those over the age of 34 who take out health insurance for the first time.
Laya Healthcare came under severe criticism recently when it emerged it has withdrawn an entry-level plan just weeks after introducing it in a bid to get new members.
Now it has emerged the insurer is imposing hikes of between 16pc and 26pc on three plans.
Health insurance expert Dermot Goode, of TotalHealthCover.ie, said the scale of the rises were surprising and indicated that the insurer was being hit hard by higher claims.
Laya is to push up the premium on the Total Choice plan by 19pc.
This will mean the plan will be €528 a year more expensive for a family of two adults and two children who renew it from August 2 next, an analysis of the plans by Mr Goode found.
Another corporate plan, Company Care Plus, will see its cost rise by 26pc. This will mean a family of two adults and two children face a hike of €1,026 if they renew this plan from next month. The insurer's Connect Care will be 16pc dearer, costing a family an extra €536 a year to renew.
Mr Goode said that two of the plans had been available at discounted rates last year. Those who did not buy them at a discount would be facing smaller percentage rises.
He advised families not to renew these policies.
Families on Total Health Choice would be better off opting for Connect Care 100 with Laya. Those on Company Care Plus should choose Laya Total Health Select.
And those on Connect Care would be better off taking out Connect Care 100.
Laya said that although it was increasing the pricing on three of its corporate plans, it was also reducing prices by up to half for children on a number of family plans, and reducing some young adult rates.
It said that the three plans with the large increases had been taken out by just 4pc of its membership. However, it did not give a reason for the increases in the premium rates.
The spokesman said it remained committed to providing best value, and continued to keep products under review. The company was the first to introduce a prize freeze on a selection of its schemes, he said.
The Cork-headquartered company was bought by international insurer AIG in a deal completed at the start of the year.