VHI hikes price of corporate plans by up to 23pc
HEALTH insurer VHI is to hike the premiums on its corporate health plans by an average of 18pc.
Some corporate plans are rising by 10pc but others will increase by 23pc, the Irish Independent has learned.
The rises will take effect for those renewing their polices from Wednesday.
One of the most popular corporate plans will go up by €144 a year for an adult.
Corporate plans are marketed by insurers to companies that are signing up the entire staff.
However, by law, they must also be made available to individuals if they ask for them -- and many switched to them in the past because they offer cheaper cover and have similar benefits to other private plans.
The VHI has 200,000 people on corporate plans. Of these, 50,000 are individuals who do not have their health insurance paid for by their employer but have still asked to be put on a corporate plan.
The move to hike the premiums on corporate plans comes after rises of between 15pc and 45pc for VHI members renewing, or taking out new, individual plans from last Tuesday.
Independent broker Jeremy Tucker, of Tailored Finance, said he was surprised that the VHI had moved to push up its corporate plan premiums by so much.
He said many companies paid for health insurance policies on behalf of staff and this would force some to seriously consider switching to Aviva or Quinn Healthcare.
A VHI spokeswoman said the primary reason for the increases was the 21pc rise in the price of private beds in public hospitals, which was costing them an additional €60m.
"We anticipate that our customers will require 10pc more healthcare in 2011 than in 2010, equating to an 8pc cost increase," she added.
The rises mean Company Plan Plus Level One with VHI will rise by 18pc to €949.90 -- from €805 -- per adult and €335.12 -- from €284 -- per child, Mr Tucker said.
Meanwhile, Company Plan Executive with VHI will rise by 23pc to €2,442.78 -- from €1,986 -- per adult, and €789.66 -- from €642 -- per child. This is a popular plan for senior management in companies.
Mr Tucker added: "These large VHI prices increases coupled with the reduction in orthopaedic and ophthalmic benefits on corporate plans is very bad news for VHI corporate customers, many of whom are already struggling with increasing costs of employee benefits as it is."
The cost of premiums for around 60pc of policyholders with individual VHI plans will increase by 15pc on renewal and others will be subjected to an 45pc increase in costs.
Meanwhile, premiums for families on the Parents and Kids plan will increase by 15pc in February, about €331 per year.