Over 65s paying significantly more for health insurance
Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

The latest report from the Health Insurance Authority shows that the cost of health insurance has increased by 10% on average since 2022 with those over 65 paying far more than their younger counterparts.  

Those over the age of 65 are paying significantly more for their health insurance, according to the latest in-depth report on the sector from the Health Insurance Authority (HIA). 

The industry watchdog has also reported a slowdown in the numbers taking out private health cover.    

The average cost of a health insurance policy is now €1,594 a year, which is up just over 10% compared to last year. However the price hikes varied significantly by plan and by insurer, ranging from 0% on some plans with VHI and Laya to as high as 17.1% on some plans with Irish Life Health. 

There are also big differences based on age. 

According to the report, those over the age of 65 pay a whopping 43% more on average for their health insurance or almost €650 a year.

The average cost of a policy is €2,136 a year for the over 65s compared to €1,490 for those under the age of 65 despite the fact that health issuers cannot charge policyholders a higher price based on their age.   

While the discrepancy is pretty startling, some of it can be explained by the type of cover people in this age bracket choose.  

Over 66% of over 65s have plans that include a high level of orthopaedic cover compared with only 27% of those under the age of 65. And plans with higher orthopaedic cover (for things like hip and knee replacements) tend to be more expensive. 

However it also shows that older policyholders aren’t shopping around and looking for the best deals. 

Older people tend to claim more and are understandably reluctant to change insurer as they’re afraid they might lose cover. However if you switch insurer you won’t have to serve any waiting periods again – as long as you switch within 13 weeks. 

This is not known by many people and is often a reason why people are afraid to switch.

And if you switch insurers while you are serving a new customer waiting period, the amount of time served with your first insurer will be taken into account with your new insurer.

And regardless of your current health or claims history, any new insurer must take you on - by law they cannot restrict you from cover or charge you extra. This is how the Irish system works.

In short, everything you're accustomed to with your current provider will be available with a new provider provided you choose a plan with a similar level of cover. 


1st Jan 2024

1st Jan 2023

1st Jan 2022

Average premium all ages 




Average premium >65




Average premium <65




Slowdown in the numbers taking out cover 

The report also shows that just under 47% of the population currently has private health insurance. This is an increase of only 1.6% since 2022, with the growth in the number of people taking out private cover having slowed in recent years.

The HIA says that a lack of affordability is likely to be the main reason for this with the wider cost-of-living crisis coupled with big hikes in the cost of health insurance in recent years impacting on take-up.    

However the expansion of free healthcare in Ireland over the past few years might also have left some people weighing up whether they need private insurance. More free GP care, relaxed thresholds for a medical card, and the removal of the €80 a day public in-patient charge mean more of us may be prepared to take a bet on the public health system.  

Review your health cover 

No matter your age, if you think you’re overpaying on your health insurance then look at switching to a new provider or a different plan. 

The HIA offers a free and comprehensive comparison tool to help consumers compare health insurance policies.   

However health insurance is a very complex product. The right plan for you will depend on many different factors. And it can also be quite difficult for the average person to understand exactly what’s covered with every policy. If you’re not careful it’s very easy to over pay, or equally as worse, under pay and not be covered for the treatment you need.     

Treatments, consultant cover, the excess, and outpatient benefits can all differ wildly between plans. And health insurance plans are constantly being updated by insurers too. What’s more, getting the right info on corporate plans, which often offer the best value and which are legally open to everyone, can sometimes be tough.

There are independent health insurance experts who, for a small fee, can conduct an over-the-phone consultation with you and recommend an appropriate plan.  

Unfortunately us Irish don’t like paying for financial advice. But for a relatively small fee of €100 or €150, say, you could end up saving well over €300 or €400 a year on your health insurance. And you’ll get a plan that’s tailored to your own specific needs. So don't be afraid to check out these services too.