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Irish Life to increase the cost of its health insurance plans

INSURER Irish Life Health will increase the cost of its plans from early January for those who renew or take out a new plan.

The walks will see the cost of health insurance increase by between €80 per year and €170 for a family of two adults and two children.

It is the first insurer this year to announce a significant increase in the cost of its policies, with both Vhi and Laya discounting earlier in the year.

However, Vhi and Laya will now follow with price hikes, an expert said.

It comes amid a cost-of-living crisis that is expected to cost the average family around €3,000 a year due to inflation in the cost of energy, motor fuel and food.

Irish Life’s move will increase the cost of Irish Life Health’s popular Benefit plan by €67 per adult, which equates to an additional cost of €155 for a family of two adults and two children.

The higher prices apply from January 1, but since large numbers renew on December 31, they can escape the higher premium costs.

The Benefit 2 plan will be €141 more expensive for a family of four, while the Benefit Access 300 plan will be €144 more expensive for a family.

Irish Life Health said the changes will result in an average annual adult gross premium increase of 4.5 per cent for customers.

The announcement comes a day after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he has received government approval to raise the annual levy on so-called advanced health insurance contracts to €438 a year.

It will go up by €32 on most subscriptions from April.

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This means that the charge accounts for about one-third of the cost of a typical adult health insurance policy.

It is clear that Irish Life Health’s latest price hike announcement does not take into account the increased cost of the government levy.

Irish Life said it is raising the cost of its plans as a result of what it said is “a very significant inflation in hospital procedure prices that has emerged recently”.

The main contributing factors are the very significant increase in energy and other supply costs, and the recent public sector pay deal that applies to healthcare workers, it said.

The changes differ per subscription.

The HealthGuide plans remain in line with the introductory price from February this year and First Cover, a recently launched entry-level plan, will not be increased. It said it is still the best value health insurance on the market at €464 per adult per year.

Ger Davis, managing director of Irish Life Health, said: “We recognize that these changes will be difficult for customers who are already experiencing price increases in many areas.

“Like many parts of the economy, the healthcare industry and hospitals in particular are now experiencing significant inflationary pressures that will impact health insurance costs.”

He said that the insurer will pass on the lowest possible increase.

The new prices will apply to new customers starting January 1 of next year and to existing customers whose renewals will expire on January 1 of next year.

Health insurer Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie said other insurers will now follow suit with price hikes.

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He said Irish Life’s increases will cost a family of two adults and two children between €70 and €170 extra per year, depending on which plan they renew.

“We can expect the others to follow now with their own increases.”

He said this was the first overall increase in health insurance costs this year, with Vhi and Laya paying discounts instead this year. This was because health insurance claims had fallen as people only used private hospitals for essential treatment during Covid.

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