46% of population covered by private health insurance as market grows

The private health insurance market is continuing to recover following the economic crash, with 30,000 more people having cover for in-patient care last year than in 2015, the regulator for the sector has said.

Speaking on the launch of its annual report, the chief executive of the Health Insurance Authority, Don Gallagher, said the market had now experienced two straight years of growth in the numbers of people insured.

He said almost 46 per cent of the population, or 2.15 million people, now have private health insurance. Subscribers paid €2.53 billion in premium payments last year.

Mr Gallagher said in the aftermath of the crash the numbers covered by private health insurance fell to a low of 2.025 million in December 2014 but since then the number of people insured had increased by 127,000.

“The increase has been proportionally greater among younger age groups, with a net increase [over the past two years] of 85,000 in the number insured in the below-50 age category and a 62,000 net increase in the above-50 age category.”

Mr Gallagher said average premiums per person rose marginally by 0.3 per cent in 2016 to €1,177 per person.

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