HEALTH insurance premiums are to go up again in a move that will mean annual increases of up to €200 for some families.
Aviva, GloHealth and VHI are all hiking the cost of policies, but there are also new plans being launched and a string of special offers, the Irish Independent has learned.
The rises are despite Health Minister Leo Varadkar announcing a range of measures earlier this month aimed at making premiums more affordable.
The measures allow insurers to offer premium discounts of up to 50pc up to age 25 - this previously stopped at 21.
The minister has also reduced the stamp duty levied on companies to fund risk equalisation for basic policies by 20pc and frozen it for more advanced products.
He said at the time he hoped insurers would respond with low, or no, premium rises. But Aviva is to increase rates by an average of 3.5pc from the start of January. Some plans will go up by 8pc, but around 27 will have no price change.
The rises will mean a family of two adults and two children will face increases of between €136 and €250 a year if they renew on the same plans, Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie said.
The company blamed higher claims for the rises. A spokeswoman for Aviva said it was launching a new range of low-cost consumer plans called Aviva Select, from January. These start from €498 a year, and this means they will be the lowest cost plan in the market, Mr Goode said.
The prices of the new plans are up to €1,040 for what Mr Goode said was good quality cover for public and private hospitals.
Child cover will be €140 year and these will include a number of add-on "medical packs" which allows consumers to tailor their cover to their personal requirements.
GloHealth will be applying increases averaging 5.2pc on a number of plans from the end of December.
The Best Plan will be increasing by €92 per adult or €216 for a typical family. The Better Plan is also increasing.
GloHealth will also be offering half-price child cover from December 31 on some of its Net plans which will save a family with two young children €260 on their renewal costs.
The company is also passing on small reductions on the new Activate plan range.
VHI is to push up the price by 4pc of a small number of corporate plans from the start of January. The State-owned insurer will also re-introduce half-price offers on its One, Teachers Select, and Nurses Plan Select plans. The offers will impact on around half of the VHI's members, it said.
The company said the discount rate would mean a family of two adults and two children on the popular One Plan would save €268 a year.
Laya Healthcare said it will not be increasing rates in January.
Three of its corporate plans, Connect Care, Connect Choice and Total Health Complete will be on a special discounted rate from January.
A typical family insured on the Connect Care scheme will be able to save €403 on their renewal cost next year.
Mr Goode said the increases were unwelcome, although lower than previous hikes.
"Any price increase is unwelcome, but these rates are well below the 6pc to 41pc that we witnessed early in 2014."