We are now entering the period when all three health insurers typically increase their rates. Thousands of members who changed their renewal dates last January to avoid the price hikes will see their premiums rise by up to 45% depending on which plan they hold. With over 40,000 cancellations so far this year, all insurers will be under pressure to cover their increasing claims costs. They are also waiting to see if the Minister announces any increases in the health insurance levies and public hospital charges which were increased by 11% and 21% respectively in January this year.
However, there is still some good news for consumers. By acting now, it is still possible to save €100’s on your costs and still retain good cover. However, it is vital that you get proper advice as numerous contracts have been changed, e.g. two insurers have introduced ‘Restricted Illnesses’ which means you will no longer be fully covered for these procedures in private hospitals. VHI now lock you into annual contracts which prohibit you from cancelling or amending your cover throughout the term with financial penalties payable for breach of this contract.
It is now critical that all health insurance members review their cover properly prior to their renewal date. Below are some cost saving tips that will definitely save you money;
VHI Plan B Options (Health Plus Extra) is now the dearest plan at this level on the market at €1,429 per adult. The equivalent plan with Quinn costs €1,110 (Essential Plus) and €1,126 with Aviva (Level 2 Hospital) saving you up to €319 per adult;
For a family of two adults and two children on the above plans, the savings with Quinn would be €637 and €764 with Aviva;
For people insured on the likes of VHI Plan C at €1,788 per adult (Health Plus Choice), Quinn Health Manager at €1,603 or Aviva We Level 3 at €1,485, they are potentially over-insured. Savings of approx. €600 per adult are possible by reducing your cover slightly and foregoing the private room in a private hospital;
Split Cover is a great way of reducing your costs. For example, you could leave the adults on a mid-range plan and put the younger children on a lower level plan.
Don’t buy cover for Day-to-Day expenses without doing the sums – many people are throwing money away on additional cover that they don’t really need. Work out how much you’re spending on the additional cover and compare this to your average annual expenditure on routine medical expenses. Given that you only receive on average 50% refund, you may find that you’ll be better off without this on your policy.
Pay the full amount for the year; avoid surcharges – Quinn is the only insurer who charges an additional 3% for instalment payments. For example, on the Essential Plus Scheme, you could save up to €85 per annum for an average family policy by paying your full premium up front;
Avail of student rates – this can save you up to 66% on the current adult cost. Remember, you don’t get this automatically, you must request it from the insurer;
Take an excess for a lower premium – most providers have plans with excess options in private hospitals (per hospital stay) which can lower your premium by an average of 9%.
Dermot Goode and his team in Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd are the leading experts on health insurance in Ireland. He previously worked with VHI, BUPA Ireland and held healthcare consultancy positions with both Mercer and Irish Pensions Trust. He is the founder of www.healthinsurancesavings.ie and is a regular contributor in the media on how to reduce your health insurance costs. He also lectures on the topic through the Insurance Institute of Ireland and with the Irish Brokers Association.
They can be contacted on 1890 252 140 or www.healthinsurancesavings.ie