Surge in numbers of people with private health insurance
There has been a surge in the numbers of people with private health insurance.
The jump has been put down to economic recovery and the introduction two years ago this week of late-entry penalties.
An extra 150,000 people took out health insurance in the past two years, says the Health Insurance Authority, the regulator.
More than two million people now have cover.
The largest increase was in the number of people in their 40s taking out cover in the last two years.
Almost 33,000 people between the ages of 40 and 49 joined a scheme since the start of 2015, the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) said.
They were prompted to take out cover to avoid levies that were imposed in May two years ago.
Known as lifetime community rating, the new system means anyone over the age of 34 who joined after May 2015 has had a loading imposed on their health insurance premium.
The loading works out at 2pc of the premium cost for every year the person is over the age of 34, if they have not had cover before.
The largest increase in those taking out cover was in the under 50 age category. This was the group targeted for lifetime community rating.