The number of people with private health insurance in Ireland rose to 2.2 million at the end of last year, representing 45% of the population, according to the Health Insurance Authority.
The figures have risen year on year since 2014, and so has the premium income for insurance companies. In 2018, premium income rose to €2.85 billion, up from €2.66 billion the previous year.
The increase in demand reflects the ongoing market stability and the country's growing economy, the authority's CEO, Don Gallagher said, and it shows that consumers continue to value private health insurance and have a strong desire to have some form of coverage.
While the number of people with health insurance increased, the average amount paid for a premium for in-patient cover decreased by 0.8% from €1,220 in 2017 to €1,210 in 2018.
The average of claims paid per insured person increased by 3% in 2018, following a 1% decrease in 2017.
"The market as a whole continues to age as a result of population demographics and market penetration rates that vary by age," Mr Gallagher said. "Insurers continue to adjust individual product benefits and prices and adding new services and features so that the complexity of the market for consumers remains high. That is why it is extremely important that consumers are pro-active in reviewing their policy benefits at renewal and the Health Insurance Authority continues to provide its website Comparison Tool and dedicated consumer helpline as significant aids to consumers."
As at December 2018, Vhi Healthcare's market share was 50%, Laya Healthcare's market share was 26%, Irish Life Health had 20% and Restricted Membership Undertakings made up balance with a 4% market share.