Private health care insurance numbers plummet in the Republic…

Fascinating little story that illustrates the bind the Republic finds itself in:

A new report published this morning from the Health Insurance Authority said that at the end of March there were 2.14 million people covered by private health insurance. This is down from 2.3 million at the peak of the market at the end of 2008.

The authority forecast that based on current trends, the number of subscribers would fall by a further 75,000 in the 18 months from June 2011 to December 2012.

A survey published by the authority today said that 23 per cent of consumers have switched health insurance company at one point or another.

The southern health system has long relied on private healthcare to take the bulk of the population out of reliance on the purse. At at time when the public purse is stretched to breaking, the applications for medical cards is at an all time high…