Key Myths associated with Private Health Insurance
Public treatment is free………..no it’s not.
I can only join certain plans…….not true – you can join any plan on the market
They won’t take me on…………..not true – they must take you on regardless of your age, gender or medical history
I can cancel my cover at anytime…..not anymore – you must wait till your renewal date
I have a medical card – don’t need health insurance………be very careful here especially if you are over 65. There is no overlap between private cover and having a medical card. If you are over 65 and want to rejoin because you no longer qualify for the medical card, you will have to wait 2 years before your cover commences and this increases to 10 years for any existing medical conditions you have.
I have to use my health insurance…………no you don’t. It’s your insurance to use as you wish. You are still entitled to go public like every other citizen and just pay the public hospital levy.
I get lots of additional benefits through my group scheme including a 10% discount……….. not really!! Nearly all consumers get the discount regardless of whether they’re through a group scheme or not. For most group schemes, all you get is the convenience of having your premium deducted via your salary or pension. Otherwise, the product is the same. The one exception is these corporate group schemes where the employer pays the cost of the health cover as a perk for all staff. In this scenario, they may be getting a 10% discount.
Cost Savings Tips – General
Split your cover or provider – e.g. put kids on a lower plan compared to the adults. You might even put some of the family with Glo to avail of free kids cover and leave the rest of the family with the current insurer.
Add an Excess to your policy – by taking on an excess in private hospitals only, you could reduce your costs by €000’s per adult depending on the insurer or plan held. In most cases, these excesses apply per admission, i.e. on the total bill. Whilst this will suit most members, those who have to attend private hospitals on a regular basis would be strongly advised to do a cost/benefit review before opting for one of these plans.
Claim your student rates – these aren’t given automatically, i.e. you have to claim same
Drop your day-to-day cover – if you have VHI Health Steps Gold or Silver or Aviva Day-to-Day A or Day-to-Day 50, you need to consider dropping these plans asap as in most cases, they no longer represent good value for money.
Seek the corporate plan equivalent – usually offer the best value for money cover but may not suit all due to private hospital excesses etc. Always look for the corporate plan equivalent to either rule it in or rule it out
Be sensible with your accommodation cover – unless a private room is critical for you, drop down one level to save one adult approx. €500 min p.a.
Watch for ‘special offers’ – from time to time, the insurers put ‘offers’ into the market especially for children under 18. Due to the volume of renewals in Jan, there should be some good offerings available especially for young families.
Annual review is essential – health insurance is changing weekly. Old plans are being replaced with new offerings often with similar benefits at a lower cost. However, the insurers are not obliged to offer these to you. Do your own research each year and pick the plan you want. Once you request it by name, they must give it to you.
Key Pitfalls to Avoid re Health Insurance Cover
Annual contracts: you can only change your cover or provider at renewal. 14 days after your renewal date, you are now locked into your contract for a further 12 months
Restricted illnesses: most mid level policies have Restricted Procedures built into the policy terms and conditions. This refers to a list of procedures that, if carried out in a private hospital, the member will have a co-payment. With VHI, the co-payment is 20% of the bill; with Aviva and Glo, it’s capped at €2,000 max. Laya Healthcare have none in place at present.
Upgrade rules – if you reduce your cover and subsequently upgrade again to a higher level of cover, be very careful – all insurers will restrict you to your previous plan for between 2-5 years for any existing medical conditions!
Policy excesses – whilst this is a great way of reducing your costs, it will not suit a member who needs to be admitted to a private hospital on a regular basis. If you have existing medical conditions and you change to a plan with no excesses from your next renewal, be aware of the upgrade rule!!
New procedures……selected hospitals covered – always check your cover in advance by calling your insurer with the consultant’s name and the procedure code
Foreign cover……….watch the small print – many members mistakenly believe their health insurance policy also includes full travel cover. This is not true – always ensure you have full travel cover in place prior to travelling abroad.