Irish Life Health is to increase the price of its plans by an average of 4.5% from the start of next year.

The increases will vary depending on the plan, with some customers facing a 6.6% increase in their premium.

The new prices will apply to new customers signing up from 1st January 2023, and existing customers who renew after that date.

Irish Life Health blamed the changes on the "very substantial inflation" in hospital procedure prices, which are a knock-on effect of higher energy and supply chain costs.

It said the recent public sector pay deal has also impacted its costs.

We recognise that these changes will be difficult for customers who are already experiencing price increases in many areas," said Irish Life Health managing director Ger Davis. "We are passing on the lowest possible increase we can, while ensuring that our customers continue to have comprehensive access to the care that they need.

"Maintaining this access is particularly important for our members as the healthcare system continues to experience significant challenges in dealing with the fallout from Covid."

It is understood the price increase does not take into account the increase in the levy on health insurers, which Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly yesterday said he had received Government approval for.

Dermot Goode of Totalhealthcare.ie advised all health insurance customers to review their cover annual, as many may not be on the best plan for their needs or budgets.

"Too many consumers are complacent when it comes to their health insurance renewal," he said. "For many reasons including fear of change, perceived complexity, misguided loyalty and simple inertia, too many people just auto-renew their cover.

"This means they're missing out on new deals and special offers, all of which could reduce their costs substantially."