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'Health cover set to go up by 30pc'

ECONOMIST Colm McCarthy has warned of excessively high health insurance costs arising out of the Government's plan to charge privately insured patients for occupying public beds.

Mr McCarthy's report, produced in association with Aviva Health, estimates that premiums are likely to increase by 25-30pc.

He said that overall private membership has fallen from 50.9pc to 45.7pc – particularly in the 20 to 29 age group. At the same time, the number of customers over 60 has grown by 52,000. Alison Burns, chief executive of Aviva Health, said that a community-rated system requires a sizeable cohort of younger and healthy members to offset the high costs associated with claims from the rising numbers of older members.