Thousands of Laya Healthcare members are in line for a second refund.

The move by the Cork-based health insurer will benefit a typical family to the tune of €240.

Laya is the second-biggest health insurer in the market with around 600,000 members. It comes after VHI and Irish Life both gave refunds this year.

Fewer people are claiming from their health insurers for procedures in public hospitals due to Covid-related overcrowding.

Laya will refund each adult customer €85, irrespective of the plan they hold. Each child will get a refund of €35.

In May, VHI refunded its members between €75 and €300 per adult due to a fall in claims.

It said at the time it was the third time it had waived a portion of premium for its customers since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And in April, Irish Life Healthcare passed on a reduction in the State levy on health insurance plans to its customers. The move saved a family around €100.

This is the second time Laya has refunded its customers.

In March 2020, Laya refunded its customers when the pandemic meant private hospitals and clinics were closed to people with private health insurance.

At that time the refunds amounted to €195 for every adult member and €60 for every child member.

For a family of two adults and children, that’s a total of €510. Laya said the latest refund would apply to those who had an active policy on June 1 this year.

The refund will be paid into the bank account of the main member on the policy in July, if Laya has bank details.

If it does not have details, the payment will be made by cheque from August.

Laya emphasised there was no need to call it about the refunds, with additional information on its website,

In a message to members, Laya managing director Donal Clancy said: “Here’s some positive news – while medical inflation is driving up the cost of healthcare, Laya Healthcare’s proactive claims and cost management means we can give back to our members.

“This is why, for the second time in two years, Laya Healthcare is giving an additional member support benefit payment to our members.”

Health insurance broker Dermot Goode said the three main health insurers repeatedly say the refunds would be a one-off but they had kept coming.

“This is great news for consumers given the background of what is happening with prices generally,” he said.

He said claims were way down for health insurers because the new wave of Covid meant public hospitals were not able to accommodate people for insurer-funded procedures, and older people were reluctant to go into public hospitals.

But he warned that rising costs for all hospitals due to energy price hikes and cost rises could see premiums shooting up next year.

Last October the Health Insurance Authority (HIA), the regulator, said it was putting in place a once-off reduction in the levy imposed on health insurance policies.

The levy decrease would mean an annual saving of €43 per adult for most of those with health insurance, the regulator said.

Source: Charlie Weston, The Irish Independent.

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