Thousands of people who are due to renew their health insurance in the next few weeks have been warned to act now to avoid huge increases in the cost of cover.
Up to 400,000 people are due to renew by the end of January. But most insurers have imposed double-digit rises in the cost of premiums since these people renewed their cover a year ago.
Health insurance expert Dermot Goode warned consumers to act now, or face rises.
Some family plans are up €500 this year.
“Approximately 400,000 policies fall due for renewal in January alone, and so we are issuing this warning to consumers to get organised and start reviewing policies now,” Mr Goode, of TotalHealthCover.ie, said.
He said that if policyholders take steps now to review their cover, “they could save themselves hundreds and even thousands on their cover for next year, depending on the plan held”.
This is particularly the case for older members. If these people switch from dated plans they stand to make the biggest savings, Mr Goode said.
There has been a succession of rises in the cost of cover this year, despite the takeover by Irish Life of Aviva Health and GloHealth. That had been expected to put downward pressure on premium costs.
But both Vhi and Laya announced two smaller rises earlier, with the cumulative impact that people renewing will be faced with overall rises of 10pc in the cost of cover.
GloHealth will raise the cost of cover by an average of 6pc this month.
Some 56 of Laya’s plans are going up by 7pc next month, with another 49 going up by 5pc in January. Aviva plans will rise by similar amounts in January.
Insurers have blamed the rising costs being imposed on them by public hospitals whenever a member uses a public hospital. The charges are imposed whether the person gets a private or a public bed, or even if they are left on a trolley.
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