The proportion of the population who have private health insurance cover has risen 5% since 2019 to 53%, new research from the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) has found.

But fewer people believe it represents good value for money, the study has established, with just 27% of respondents deeming it worth the outlay, down 8% on 2019.

That perceived lack of value is cited as the reason why around a third of policy-holders have switched recently, compared to 19% two years ago.

However, the survey found that many remain concerned about the switching process and the prospect of changing their provider, in case they lose benefits or because they perceive the process to be difficult.

As a result, the vast majority of people still do not switch, despite the potential savings that can be made by doing so, the analysis discovered.

In fact, in order to switch, respondents indicated that savings of at least 30% would be required.

"It is clear that an increasing number of people do not feel health insurance is good value, yet they do want cover and are not willing to lose the peace of mind it offers," said HIA CEO Laura Brien.

"We know from our survey results that people have a fear of switching. They are inclined only to take action if they see dramatic savings."

"However, they can and should avail of savings in the market once they understand their policy and level of cover, they need."

The survey, carried out for the HIA by Kantar Millward Brown also found that most people view health insurance as a necessity rather than a luxury.

More females than males were found to have given up their cover it also established.

42% of respondents said they no longer have health insurance because it is too expensive and they cannot afford it.

But cover has increased among younger age groups, aged between 18 and 24 years old.

Almost two thirds of consumers consider the public health services in Ireland to be inadequate with a severe lack of access and longer waiting lists.