Health insurance costs for over 2 million people expected to rise in coming weeks

Era of price stability across private sector set to end as impact of the cost of living crisis passed on to consumers

The cost of health insurance for more than two million people is expected to increase within weeks as an era of price stability across the private healthcare sector comes to an end and the impact of the cost of living crisis is passed on to consumers.

Earlier this month Irish Life imposed an average price increase of 5 per cent on customers and while the VHI and Laya Healthcare refused to be drawn on their plans when contacted by The Irish Times, a leading industry figure has told people to expect both to follow suit ahead of the spring.

Increases similar to those rolled out by Irish Life would see the average annual cost of health insurance for a family of four on a standard policy rising by close to €200 a year. A couple on one of the top tier legacy policies on the market could end up paying substantially more than that.

Insurance broker Dermot Goode said insurers were noting more claims being made as people seek to claw back money spent in an era of climbing prices and that healthcare providers have not been immune to the higher input costs endured elsewhere.


“Electricity, gas, equipment, prescription drugs, everything is going through the roof... all the hospitals are telling us that their costs of running their business have literally increased by multiples and that feeds into their negotiations with the insurance companies on increases,” said Mr Goode of, part of the Lockton insurance group.

Similar increases

Pointing to the Irish Life increase, Mr Goode said the sector was anticipating that the VHI and Laya would “increase their rates by a similar percentage by March 1st. And if we could get away with 5 per cent in terms of cumulative increase for this year that’d be a bonus but we are... into rising costs right across the board for health insurance”.

The impact of the increases could, however, be significantly lessened and in many cases cancelled out completely for those who shop around, the head of the watchdog governing the sector has said.

Laura Brien, chief executive of the Health Insurance Authority, said more than one million people including individuals, couples and families are missing out on savings worth hundreds and sometimes thousands each year and often end up paying more for less cover by not actively seeking out the best value.

She said that for people who have been on the same plan for more than three years “there’s a very, very high probability that there’s a better plan out there that has a comparable set of benefits.”

She also pointed to savings on the table and said the authority’s research has shown that there can be price differentials of as much as €1,000 per person between two plans that fall within a broadly similar ranger of cover.

“There are certain plans that have been out there for a very, very long time where the price has gone up every year and similar plans have been introduced more recently, with very comparable levels of benefits but at much lower rates.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast