Drop in health insurance numbers
A further 75,000 people could drop their private health insurance cover by the end of the year, the regulator for the sector has forecast.
A new report published this morning from the Health Insurance Authority said that at the end of March there were 2.14 million people covered by private health insurance. This is down from 2.3 million at the peak of the market at the end of 2008.
The authority forecast that based on current trends, the number of subscribers would fall by a further 75,000 in the 18 months from June 2011 to December 2012.
A survey published by the authority today said that 23 per cent of consumers have switched health insurance company at one point or another.
The survey also indicated that affordability, the impact of price rises, employment status and general economic conditions are all affecting consumer sentiment towards private health insurance.
Fifty per cent of respondents to the authority's survey who had cancelled their cover, said the reason for cancelling was that premiums were too high and they couldn't afford it.
Sixteen per cent of those who left the insurance market cited job losses and a further 11 per cent said they had cancelled their cover because their employer no longer paid for it.