Insurance premiums could rise by up to 16% if hundreds of people cancel their private health cover, an industry observer has warned.
An announcement is expected this afternoon from the main insurance companies on their plans for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, including Irish Life, Laya and VHI.
The measures could include rebates and some concessions for people forced to reduce their cover.
The Government's deal with private hospitals to operate as public facilities was seen as a key measure in the country's response to COVID-19. Some 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of staff have been drafted into the public system.
Dermot Goode from Total HealthCover.ie said this move, as well as the financial impacts of COVID-19 on people's incomes could lead to some of the 2.3 million people with private health insurance cancelling their policies.
"We're expecting increases of maybe 7% to 8% each year (and) that could be doubled if a lot of people are forced to cancel their private health cover," he said.
Of today's expected announcement, he added there were likely to be two areas of focus: "One is some level of rebate and the other could be concessions for people who have had no choice only to reduce their cover down."
Meanwhile, in a video posted to Twitter, Health Minister Simon Harris said some people who have paid private health insurance may get some money back because of the pandemic.