herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Time to shop around again as 6pc VHI hike signals price war end

VHI spokesman Declan Moran
VHI spokesman Declan Moran

The end of the health insurance price war has been confirmed after the largest player in the market announced a price hike.

The move by VHI marks a reversal of its policy up to now of cutting prices.

There will be an average rise in premiums of 6pc from the start of August, the company said, blaming costs in hospitals, increases in consultants' fees and demand for more medical treatments by members.

The rise will mean the annual cost for an adult of the popular One-Plus plan goes up by €85 a year to €1,204.

Premium

The cost of the HealthPlus Premium product will rise by €320 a year per adult to €3,495 a year from August 1. The move to raise prices is in contrast to cuts in premiums delivered by VHI in 2017 and last year.

Last month, consumers were warned to brace themselves for health insurance price hikes after an end was declared to the price war.

The warning came after Laya Healthcare said it was raising its prices on 82 plans from July.

This will see some families paying €260 more a year for cover. Irish Life raised prices by an average of 3.3pc this month, a move that will mean it will cost a family €110 more a year on the Select scheme, and €122 on the 4D Health 2 scheme.

Now VHI is increasing the cost of cover.

VHI director of marketing and business development Declan Moran claimed that although it has announced price increases, VHI customers' average premium prices are still lower than in August 2017.

"VHI is very conscious that our customers face financial pressures. VHI has kept costs down over the last number of years through prudent cost management and has passed the benefits of reduced claims costs, particularly in public hospitals, back directly to our customers in price reductions and increased benefits."

Claims

Dermot Goode, health insurance consultant with Totalhealthcover.ie, said: "Due to increasing claims costs, particularly from the private hospital sector, we're now moving back into familiar territory of annual price hikes."

Consumers need to start shopping around again well in advance of renewal, he said.

"By moving to more up-to-date corporate plans, significant savings are still possible."

Meanwhile, he added where plans are being retired by insurers, affected customers should get advice on the best alternative solution to suit their needs.

He said that the VHI increase was "expected".

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