The VHI Group has reported a net surplus of €56.4m for the year to the end of December, up from €45.5m in 2015.

The health insurer provider also reported an improved reserves position of €558.2m, up 7% on the previous year.

VHI said the improved figures were as a result of its increased membership and the company's "relentless" focus on cost management.

The company said it had a total of 1.069 million customers at the end of last year.

Over the course of the year, Vhi paid €1.34 billion to cover the healthcare needs of its members, down slightly with 2015's figure of €1.38 billion. 

The group said it processed over 984,000 claims last year. Of this, over 766,000 were for in-patient and day-care claims while a further 218,000 were for outpatient and primary care claims.  

John O'Dwyer, the Vhi Group's chief executive, said that 2016 was another successful year for the company.

He said the company's improved results "were achieved despite the difficult dynamics of an ageing population, medical inflation and the persistence of low investment returns."

Mr O'Dwyer said he welcomed the improvements made to help sustain the community rated market in Ireland through the changes to the Risk Equalisation Scheme.

"But to ensure the market can operate in a sustainable and fair manner for the medium to long term the risk sharing scheme requires further and continued enhancement to more effectively balance the cost of care between older and younger, sicker and healthier policy holders," he added.