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VHI warns premiums could jump 50 per cent over health reforms

Minister Howlin said the govt would seek to save €143m by improving “the generation and collection of private income in public hospitals”.

Image: clevercupcakes via Creative Commons

HEALTH INSURER VHI has warned that if the government implements the health reforms outlined by Minister Brendan Howlin today in full, it could force the company to increase its premiums by up to 50 per cent.

During his outline of Budget 2012 this afternoon, the minister said that the government would work to “improve the generation and collection of private income in public hospitals to save €143 million”.

Minister for Health James Reilly had suggested charging private patients for the use of public beds in a pre-Budget parliamentary party meeting with his coalition colleagues recently.

Responding to Howlin’s Budget speech this afternoon, VHI said in a statement that people in private healthcare will “eliminate the right of every citizen to avail of free public healthcare, and people with private health insurance will, in effect, end up paying twice”.

The insurer’s CEO Declan Moran said the move would have a profound effect on the private health insurance market, in which increasing numbers are struggling to maintain their insurance policies, and “put further pressure on the public system”.

“VHI Healthcare now needs to consider its position and to decide whether we continue to provide cover for all public hospitals in the future in light of this proposed change,” he added. “Already the public hospital system can be more expensive than the private one for similar services and this is unsustainable and uneconomical.”

Quinn Healthcare announced last week that the average cost of its health insurance would rise by 12 per cent from January 2012.

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