The increase will add about €100 a year to the cost of health insurance for the average family.
The company said yesterday it was putting up its prices because it needed to price policies “in order to ensure that we can continue to cover the healthcare needs of our customers”.
It blamed the latest price rise on the fact that people were living longer with long-term illnesses. This was contributing to increased demand and use of health services, a spokesman said.
The cost of claims for private hospitals has gone down but public hospital costs continue to rise, according to the insurer.
The increase will take effect from November 22nd. With 57 per cent of the market, VHI is the largest health insurer and has 1.3 million customers.
Last March it increased prices by between 6 per cent and 12.5 per cent, on top of a 1.9 per cent rise last November.
Other insurers have also increased their prices this year. Aviva premiums went up by up to 7 per cent for policy renewals from last week, the fifth increase in less than two years. Laya Healthcare, formerly Quinn Healthcare, has had two price rises this year.
The insurance companies met Department of Health officials last Friday over the department’s plans to modify risk equalisation rules to make insurance more expensive for treatment in private hospitals.