- Posted by irishhealthinsurance
- On January 11, 2013
So you’ve just got your Health Insurance renewal notice in the post. You have credit card debt and still paying off last year’s holiday. A 20% odd increase on last year’s premium?
First thought, how am I going to afford this? Second thought, maybe I’ll take the kids off the policy – after all, children don’t need private healthcare. Do they? Invariably what has happened in the past is that you forgot about doing anything constructive and the policy just renewed again for another year. Sound familiar?
Well there are plenty of things to think about how one goes about choosing their health insurance. How many of us were on Vhi’s Plan B (or HealthPlus Access as it is now known) for years. One never really knew why one was on this particular VHI plan or what cover it offered. After all we were never sick or at least never sick enough to have to use it to any great extent.
Of course we know how we arrived at that plan. Our parents put us on it and we never left it! Some over the years moved on to Lifestage plans, First Plan, Family Plan, Family Plan Plus Level 1 or 2 attached. Sometimes we sent in a couple of receipts for GP or consultant visits and were delighted to get some money back.
When deregulation arrived we saw BUPA enter the market and offer comparable levels of cover to VHI, only cheaper. BUPA did well offering their Essential range and Essential Plus was a popular choice. Then VIVAS Health entered the market and offered the ‘i and we plan’ range.
BUPA left after the introduction of Risk Equalization and Quinn Healthcare took over. VIVAS then were bought over by Hibernian. Hibernian Health was renamed Hibernian Aviva Health and then took their final name Aviva Health.
Quinn Healthcare were taken over by Laya Healthcare who promised to look after you always.
A 4th insurer, GloHealth, entered in 2012 to offer consumers and companies alike their Basic, Good , Better, Best, Ultra and Ultimate range.
So has the market evolved over the years? Would the Irish public be better served by the VHI as a State insurer? We have seen the plans marketed by VHI, LAYA, Aviva and GloHealth offer more comprehensive cover with the opportunity to claim back money on one’s everyday outpatient medical expenses. However the more money plans rebated, the quicker the prices premiums rose and a doubling of premiums has not been an uncommon feature of the market in the last 4 or 5 years.
Now as the health insurers battle to try to keep premium increases to a minimum due to double digit percentage increases in the health levy we start to see a reverse of the extra benefits offered in the last number of years.
BUPA / Quinn / Laya Healthcare have always favoured excesses on their plans with the biggest excesses or shortfalls reserved for cover in High Tech Hospitals; Blackrock Clinic, Mater Private and the Beacon Hospital. Now inpatient excesses are the norm in the market and are successful in offering cheaper premiums in return for one off or nightly excesses.
So how much of an excess are you prepared to take? The usual options are €75 or €125 per episode of care. €50 per night or even up to €500 per episode of care on Vhi’s One Plan 500 which offers cover for €649.50 net per adult per year. Plans also have outpatient excesses for day to day outpatient cover of €25 or €50 e.g. Aviva Health’s new Health Plan 05 or €300 in the case of Vhi’s Plan B, thereby rendering all listed outpatient benefits virtually unobtainable.
Many Plans now also have co payments or shortfalls for certain orthopaedic procedures in Private or High Tech Hospitals where the burden is shared with the customer in that they have to pay the first 20% with Vhi or the first €2,000 GloHealth or Aviva. While Laya Healthcare doesn’t have any orthopaedic shortfall per say they do have shortfalls for these types of procedures and any other general or special procedures in High Tech Hospitals with Laya Healthcare.
The latest plans have restricted or no cover in certain hospitals or will offer cover in particular hospitals e.g. Laya Healthcare’s Aspire plan which offers full cover in the Beacon Hospital & The Sports Surgery Clinic Santry . Vhi changed their classification of the Beacon Hospital from a High Tech Hospital to a Private Hospital a couple of years ago.
Choosing cover for everything you want, accounting for a level of excess that you are comfortable with while balancing any possible downsides all with a view to having that solution meet your budget is no longer an easy task.
Choose wisely and choose carefully. Here are some of the things that you should consider when choosing a plan or an insurer.
- Are you prepared to have an excess and if so what level of excess are you prepared to have on your plan?
- Do you know the difference between a General Procedure, a Special Procedure and a Cardiac Procedure?
- Is there a particular hospital or consultant that you want cover for?
- Are the consultants part or full participating with your health insurance?
- What level of cover do you want for physiotherapy visits?
- Do you want to have enhanced maternity cover on your plan (for Private Maternity i.e. Mount Carmel?
- For how many days per year are you out of the country?
- Do you want the flexibility to change your plan during the year?
- How often to you want to be able to claim back medical expenses and how much?
- Better access for MRI or Dexa Scans, CT, PET CT’s or mammograms?
- Cover for Health or Heart Screens?
Even knowing the answers to these questions is only half the battle. Being able to find the solution is the difficult part. This is where we would believe that using a professional advisor on Health Insurance who deals day in day out with these products is invaluable in terms of the time and hassle saved and the eventual solution provided both in terms of value for money and cover provided.
There are few professionals in this space due to the complex and ever changing nature of the market. We are one such advisor and are used by individuals and families as well as companies large and small both foreign and domestic.
If you are renewing your individual, family or company health insurance scheme in the coming months, contact us now to arrange a consultation on how best to renew.
Irish Health Insurance