Private Health Insurance Numbers

The Irish Times – Friday, September 7, 2012
Private health insurance numbers fall another 61,000

SUZANNE LYNCH

THE NUMBER of Irish people holding private health insurance continued
to decline in the year to June, with 61,000 less people insured than
in June 2011.

Figures released by the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) yesterday
reveal 2.123 million people – or 46.3 per cent of the population – now
hold private health insurance. This represents a drop of 16,000 since
March and a decrease of 61,000, or 4 per cent, since June 2011.

The number of people holding private health insurance peaked in 2008
at 2.3 million, but has been in decline since.

The HIA data shows Aviva continued to increase its share of the health
insurance market last year. In 2011 the insurance multinational grew
its market share in Ireland to 17.7 per cent, up from 13.7 per cent
previous year.

Over the same period VHI Healthcare’s market share fell from 61.6 per
cent to 57.3 per cent, continuing a pattern that has seen the State
health insurer’s market share fall steadily since 2008 when it held
66.8 per cent of the market.

In contrast, the figures show that Quinn Healthcare – renamed Laya
Healthcare earlier this year – was not unduly affected by the
difficulties of its tied agent Quinn Insurance, which was placed into
administration in 2010.

Quinn Healthcare’s share of the market remained steady at just under
21 per cent last year, the figures show.

The data does not include figures for Glo Health, a new health insurer
provider, which entered the market in July. The new entrant into the
Irish health insurance market is headed up by three former Aviva
executives, Jim Dowdall, Stephen Loughman and Oliver Tattan. Insurance
company Irish Life has a 30 per cent stake in the company, while it is
backed by German re-insurer Munich Re.

The cost of health insurance has been rising recently, due in part to
a 40 per cent increase in the Government levy on private health
insurance announced at the beginning of the year.

The rise in private healthcare costs has been a leading contributor to
the rise in the consumer price index over the last year.