Fewer than one in four subscribers have switched health insurers despite hikes in prices and growing numbers are abandoning cover, a new survey revealed yesterday,
Just 23pc of those surveyed said they had left their health insurer for a rival company although numbers are higher than in 2010 when just 16pc switched.
Although many have traded down for a cheaper product with their existing provider, people say they would need to save an average of €441 to persuade them to switch to another company.
The majority have switched just once and most of the movement was away from VHI (72pc) and Quinn healthcare (21pc).
The Health Insurance Authority (HIA), which regulates the industry, predicted that 75,000 people will drop their private health insurance between June 2011 and December 2012.
The health insurance market peaked with 2.3 million customers at the end of 2008 and had fallen to 2.14 million by the end of March. The same numbers are insured now as in 2006.
Half of those who cancelled their cover blamed the cost. Job losses and the decision of employers to no longer include it as a perk also resulted in people dropping their cover.
HIA chief executive Liam Sloyan said the findings showed people still believe that private health insurance is a highly valued commodity, but many people are under strain to keep it due to affordability.
He welcomed the increase in people who were more actively shopping around.
The findings also showed that over 86pc of people are satisfied with their cover and most see it as means to access healthcare services quicker. Attitudes to premium increases have changed sharply -- 36pc say they are inappropriate compared with 49pc in 2010.