Health Insurance Exodus; as Unemployment Soars, Up to 200,000 Policyholders Will Leave Private Schemes

Article excerpt

Byline: Galen English

A TOTAL of 200,000 cashstrapped private health insurance holders are expected to tear up their policies by the end of the year as unemployment continues to soar.

The country's biggest private health provider has predicted a dramatic fall by the end of 2010.

Over two million people currently have private health insurance - but this figure is expected to drop sharply as unemployment races towards 15.5 per cent.

The VHI prediction encompasses all insurers, including Quinn and Hibernian.

The Irish Patients' Association has warned that such a situation would put huge pressure on public health services and could lead to higher prices in private insurance, as fewer people would be paying into the system.

IPA chairman Steven McMahon said: 'The attendance of three All Ireland finals will be leaving the health insurance market.

'We understand that they will be mainly young people and this means there will be increased waiting lists on our public healthcare system and other pressures. It will mean higher premiums for people remaining in the private health insurance market.' Recently unemployed worker Leo Breslin told RTE he had been forced to scrap his private healthcare. He said: 'We have very little money coming in, big bills going out so it was a hard decision to make but we sat down and made it. …