Your health insurance could cost you an extra €40 from April

It could leave a family of four an extra €160 out of pocket per year...

People should expect a 10% increase to their health insurance levy, according to an industry expert.

The Department of Health has written to insurers informing them of the increase. Leading healthcare benefits expert Dermot Goode expects the cost to be passed on to consumers.

However, Minister for Health Simon Harris has since suggested to Newstalk.com that insurance companies are considering not making consumers pay for the increase, and that they are under no obligation to do so.

Goode told Newstalk Breakfast this morning:

"They've just announced they're going to introduce a health insurance levy increase of 10%. So that means that rates are all going to go up VHI, Laya, everybody... Irish Life Health, there's going to be another increase now, probably by April of next year, to fund the health insurance levy."

The levy is currently €399 on any adult plan that gives people access to private health facilities. That means people would essentially be a further €40 out of pocket – private healthcare for a family of four would now be €160 more costly every year.

In September 2015, insurer Glohealth called for reforms that would see the €399 across-the-board fee be replaced by a percentage-based levy. The current system means that the levy accounts for a small part of a high-end plan, but up to 60% of an ordinary family's cover.

News of the fresh levy hike comes as Irish Life is set to increase its health insurance premiums by 6%.