Over 800pc hike in calls in race for health cover
Calls to some of the country's biggest health insurance companies increased by over 800pc ahead of new membership rules that came into affect last night.
The new lifetime community rating initiative means people over the age of 34 who miss the deadline to purchase in-patient private health insurance will have to pay a loaded premium.
People who sign up for the first time or after a long break will be faced with a 2pc per-year penalty on their health insurance.
Spokesman for Laya Healthcare Ciaran Curran explained how the company was receiving "10 times" the number of calls this week compared to the same period last year.
"This week has been absolutely mental, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of calls we've received and our sales have also increased by at least 100pc in comparison to the same time last year," Mr Curran said.
He also explained how Laya Healthcare hired extra staff to cope with the sheer volume of calls, and also extended its opening hours from 9pm to midnight last night.
However, while Laya were prioritising calls from customers seeking new membership, it could not extend its deadline.
"We will give priority to callers looking to buy a new membership, but we can't go beyond the deadline, it's legislation and Minister Varadkar has been very clear that there is no extension being granted," Mr Curran said last night.
Aviva Health Insurance also received a large increase in calls this week, with staff also working until midnight to cope.
"There has certainly been a surge in the number of sales this week in comparison to this time last year, we've doubled our membership sales," spokesperson Cathy Herbert explained.
However, despite companies being firm on last night's deadline, a source explained how people who attempted to make contact with companies to acquire insurance could have their membership backdated to before the deadline.