HEALTH insurance hikes due after Christmas have been blamed on the Government's "failed" policies.
Reports today revealed consumers will be forced to pay an extra €300 in premiums in a series of punishing increases in the new year.
The increases will come at the worst time for hard-pressed consumers, who will also be dealing with the after-effects of December's Budget.
It has emerged that VHI, Laya, Aviva and Glo will all increase prices by between 10pc and 15pc at the start of the year.
Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the Government's decision to increase the cost on insurers for paying for private patients in public hospital beds has contributed to the rises.
Since 2009, premiums have doubled in many instances.
"It's a very, very worrying trend. I think what (Health Minister James Reilly) has to do is make sure that the cost in terms of the provision of health care does not escalate," Mr Kelleher told the Herald.
He also wants the minister to ensure insurers are not using Government decisions to inflate premiums when it might not be necessary.
"Six thousand people a month are dropping their health insurance policies. That flies in the face of everything this Government is talking about. If the Government was serious about universal health insurance it would be trying to get people to take out insurance," Mr Kelleher said.
Earlier this week, VHI announced it was pushing up premiums by 3pc next month.
This is the fourth price rise in two years.
VHI says the latest hike will increase the cost of insurance for a family of two adults and two children on the One Plus Plan by €55 a year.
For a family of two adults and two children on the Parents & Kids Plan, the rise will be €83.20 a year.
The VHI has about 250,000 customers on one or other of these plans. Reports today revealed VHI will impose more hikes next year, along with Laya, Aviva and Glo Health.
The average plan for a family with two children is set to rise to €2,300 -- up by €300.
Independent Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath told the Herald: "I have major concerns about the hikes for families. It's a bad day for patients and a bad day for consumers."