- Posted by irishhealthinsurance
- On May 28, 2014
Below is a link to an article which I found on the Irish Times website this evening and one which I felt could not go unchallenged from an industry professional whilst also from an independent standpoint.
I felt the article was grossly unfair to Vhi Healthcare in its representation of the facts. It lacked any kind of in-depth analysis and bore evidence that little if any research has gone into its claims. Indeed one might infer from its sentiment that it almost looked as though the content was influenced by another party with industry interests.
In stating the above I should preface that by assuring you that I am not in the business of coming to the defence of the Vhi or indeed any other insurer in areas where one could suggest sharp practice was at play. To any reader that might suspect otherwise, I challenge them to go through the history of the articles written on this website for evidence to back up such a claim.
I should also state that as you will see from the online article I cannot see who wrote it which goes to illustrate that my issues are with the article and not the author. While I would ordinarly not respond to such an article, on reading this I found that almost every single line needed to be challenged.
The first paragraph of the article simply outlines the offer as laid out in the VHI Press Release. However as soon as we get to the first sign of an opinion in the 2nd paragraph we see error after error. I have quoted these errors below and given my response in red.
- “Furthermore, the VHI has already put up the price for children on some plans by, wait for it, 50 per cent”. WHICH PLANS? If only referring to the ones named further on in the article, while you may be technically correct it is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. I have dealt with these in the points below as they appear in the article.
- “The VHI went all out to tell everyone about the decrease, which is the total opposite to its modus operandi for price increases. The health insurer has made several increases to its plans so far this year, but there was no fanfare or mass announcements for those. For the most part, it merely just informed the health insurance authority, which put the announcement on its website”. EXPLAIN THIS PLEASE? How exactly do you categorise going “all out”? From my understanding Vhi announced this special offer by way of a Press Release which is entirely consistent with any consumer price increases they had of the same scale. Anytime Vhi have increased their premiums across their range of Consumer Plans they have announced it by way of a similar Press Release, even in occasions such as 2011 when the announced increase was as much as 45% on some adult premiums. So whether you consider this going all out or fanfare, it is certainly consistent with form to date and not at all the opposite to its modus operandi.
- “In fact, the VHI has had at least six price hikes in the last three years, so the fact it is announcing a temporary decrease in the cost of child plans for certain customers, isn’t exactly a huge bonus”. Of those Health Insurers that have been operating in the Market for the last 3 years, all of them had at least six price hikes in the last three years if you are choosing to break this calculation down to each time an individual plan sees an increase. What should be noted in the context of this article is the fact that of all the temporary decreases in child premiums during that time, no such offer by any insurer was ever as robust as this one! So by any definition, I’d call that a bonus offering! All this is to say nothing of the fact that of all the insurers price increases this year, Vhi’s remain by far the lowest at between just 2% and 7%
- “Furthermore, while it is knocking 50 per cent off the price of some plans from July 1st, it increased the price of other plans by 50 per cent at the beginning of May. On May 8th the child premiums on Nurses Plan Select increased from €143.75 to €287.50. People on this plan who renewed in May, or who will be renewing in June will have to pay €287.50”. Nurses Plan Select is a plan designed unsurprisingly enough for Nurses!! As such it is not deemed to be a standard consumer plan and while ‘Open Enrolment’ allows for anyone to avail of it, it will be subject to a pricing structure that was not designed for the ordinary consumer. In fact if the author had researched this properly they would have found that this plan is NOT increasing by 50%, but is returning to its non discounted price. This plan cost €287.50 on the 6th of March this year and was REDUCED by 50% on the 7th of March as a half price kids offer designed to tie in with the renewal date of the INMO Scheme. So rather than a sinister increase it was a generous decrease designed for that very demographic for which the plan itself was created. Likewise the 50% increase you mention on the plan ‘One Plan Family’ which actually was designed for the Consumer Market was not an increase in its standard price but a return to its standard price from a ‘half price kids’ offer. How this one escaped the author is beyond me as it was plastered across every bus in Dublin!
As a Health Insurance Professional who works in this industry day in day out and whose expertise is underpinned by qualifications earned through examination and retained through continuous professional development, I am regularly faced with consumers who challenge the professional advice they seek based on their readings of the gospels according to various journalists who decide for a time to act as crusaders of the public. I am all for such crusaders, however it over simplifies an already complex market to simply paint the insurer as the big bad wolf and themselves as the valiant heroes that have managed to unravel the tangled webs they weave. This article is a particularly ham fisted attempt considering there was no practice to deceive whatsoever on behalf of the insurer.
It is we the professionals who must stand over the advice and recommendations we offer the public and it is this ultimate responsibility coupled with having the client’s best interests at heart that ensure we do so in a considered and responsible manner with all associated due diligence. I would ask that those journalists who seek to make commentary on this market, for whatever motive, do so with the same due diligence and responsible consideration deserving of those they purport to serve.