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Less than half of Irish population have health insurance cover

New figures from the Health Insurance Authority show that 47 per cent of the population are covered by inpatient health insurance.

Image: Andrew Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

NEW FIGURES FROM the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) have shown that less than half of the Irish population have inpatient health insurance cover after 66,000 people dropped their cover last year.

The figures released yesterday show that 2.163 million people had cover at the end of last year meaning that 47.2 per cent of the population are covered.

The fall of 66,000 over the year included a decline of 9,000 over the final quarter of 2011. The number of people with health insurance has been in decline since 2008.

The HIA figures also show that the average premium paid by each insured person last year was €926 – a 6 per cent increase on prices in 2010. The total amount of that was paid in health insurance premiums last year came to €2.03 billion, an increase of 4 per cent from 2010.

The figures also showed that 103,000 people were insured with policies solely providing outpatient benefits or health insurance cash plans.

Planned increases by health insurers are set to come into effect tomorrow.

Customers with VHI, Quinn Healthcare - now Liberty Insurance – and Aviva who are renewing their policies in March will see their premiums rise by as much as 12.5 per cent.

Health insurance costs have soared by over 60 per cent over the past year when the premium hikes coming into effect tomorrow are taken into account.

The government is looking to eventually introduce a universal health insurance scheme in Ireland which would it says would end the “unfair” two-tier health system in the country.

Read: European Commission sends formal notice to Ireland over VHI

Read: Expert group to examine universal health insurance proposal

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Hugh O'Connell

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