Health insurers will ‘inevitably’ follow Laya Healthcare in hiking their prices, consumer expert Sinéad Ryan has warned.
Laya is Ireland’s second largest health insurance provider and some 700,000 people buy their insurance from them.
Earlier this month, it announced a policy with the company will cost more 3% more on average from October 1st and and The Home Show presenter Sinead Ryan said other companies will ‘inevitably’ follow suit.
“In fact, Irish Life Health Care has already had two price increases this year," she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“Laya had its own earlier in the year, so this is the second one and it’s the compounding effect of all of these that are going to hit consumers because most people buy their health insurance on a yearly contract.
“Anyone, say, whose renewal date will be up in February or March, will be hit on the double from these increases that are coming through.
“Actually, the vast majority of policies are renewed between December and February.
“So, it is going to be a bit of a shock when people get those renewal statements in.”
Last year, inflation in Ireland hit 8.4% and the ECB predicts it will average 5.4% this year, before dropping to 3% next year and 2.2% in 2025.
The medical industry has not been immune to the impact of inflation and Sinead said the price rise is a response to that.
“Medical inflation, that seems to be very high,” she said.
“Certainly, it reflects what is happening with inflation generally in the marketplace [and] the increased costs of treatments.
“But also, it is [being] blamed [on] energy costs and staffing costs and the knock-on effects on that.”
Sinead said while any increase by itself “mightn’t sound like much”, it all adds up.
“The problem with the averages is that each of the three insurers have multiple policies,” she said.
“So, some of them might go up by a small amount but a lot of the more popular plans - the ones that are heavy in terms of the claims history, will go up by a lot more.
“So, it is really important that people shop around when renewal comes in.”
In 2022, 47.5% of the Irish population has private health insurance, according to the Health Insurance Authority.
Main image: Doctor measures the blood pressure of a patient. Image: Piotr Adamowicz / Alamy