Sunday 19 November 2017

Price freeze is the very least that members deserve

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

You have to wonder if anyone in the VHI was connecting the dots when it announced bumper profits.

The State-owned health insurer has just revealed that it made profits of €56.4m last year. This is up €11m from the previous year. There is nothing shabby about those profits.

But did nobody in the VHI consider that it might be a tad insensitive to trumpet bumper profits less than three weeks after its premium rates went up again?

From the start of this month, the average plan will be 2pc dearer. It comes a few months after a similar rise. Cumulatively, families face paying an extra €250 for cover when they renew.

The healthy profits are sufficient to raise questions about why consumers have to suffer more premium rises.

But add to that the fact the cost of claims paid out in 2016 was down from the previous year and the more than one million members of the VHI are justified in questioning why they have to pay more.

It seems as if the rise in the cost of cover is relentless. Half the population has health insurance, while the other half has a medical card.

Challenged on the price hikes, VHI chief executive John O'Dwyer argues his is a low profit margin business. Pressed by the Irish Independent, he promised not to raise the cost of premiums again this year. That is the least his members deserve. Those with health insurance have taken quite enough at this stage.

Irish Independent

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