Private health insurance customers can expect higher premiums in the months ahead due to a change in Government levies.
New risk equalisation legislation requires that an additional €65 be levied on adults who are regarded as “advanced” policy holders as well as an extra €25 on children.
However, the hikes were not intended to be applied to those with the most basic insurance packages.
However, a Health Insurance Authority audit of the market found none of the available plans conform to the legislation’s definition of ‘basic’, meaning all policy holders face forking out the extra cash unless their plans are downgraded. The cut-off point to decide what is basic and what is advanced has been set at 66% of cover for a private hospital.
The HIA said insurers would be able to introduce new and amended plans both before and after March 31, the point at which the new health levy kicks in.
Plans that stay below the 66% threshold will be subject to a lower levy of €5.
Industry experts have now called on the Government to amend the legislation to protect those on basic policies and to prevent any further exodus from the private health insurance market. Some reports estimate private health insurance cover has dropped from a peak of 54% to 46% today.
The health levy does not go to government but is redistributed among the insurance companies to offset the risk of having an older, more infirm, customer base under a system of risk equalisation. This means that the lion’s share goes to the Vhi, which has an older customer base.
All health insurance policy holders currently pay a government levy of €285 (adults) or €95 (child) as part of the risk equalisation scheme. This will change to €350 for adults and €120 for children who hold “advanced” policies after Mar 31. The hike will be €5 if insurers come up with more basic packages.
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