Charlie Weston: 'You can get better-value on health insurance without switching provider'
FEAR of change is a potent force. Banks, insurers and other financial service providers know this only too well, and use it against consumers.
One of the products that people get badly caught out on from this fear of change is health insurance.
The cost of health cover is still rising, despite overall improvements in economic conditions.
Some 65 Laya plans went up for those renewing from this month, in a move that will see families paying up to €500 more when they renew.
Aviva increased its rates by 5.5pc on average for those renewing or taking out a new plan from the start of last month.
The increases have been imposed despite thousands of new customers taking up health insurance for the first time in May to beat new late-entry levies.
Laya's and Aviva's price rises will mean that a family of two adults and two children will be faced with increases of between €50 and €350 if they stay on the same plans.
Some plans will be €500 more expensive for a similar-sized family. Half of Laya's plans went up in price by an average of 4pc last week.
This comes after Laya imposed price rises of up to 26pc on a select number of corporate plans in July, after earlier withdrawing an entry-level plan.
The good news is that the premium rises can be avoided.
According to Dermot Goode, of TotalHealthCover.ie, you can get a better-value policy without having to switch provider.
He said a family on Laya's Health Smart Family should opt for Connect Care 100 to avoid a hike in premiums of €519. Families that are insured on the Laya Essential Plus can avoid a €240 rise in its cost by choosing Total Health (No Excess).
The low-priced Essential Scheme from Laya is also going up, but the Assure Vitality plan is far cheaper for those who only want public hospital cover, Mr Goode said.
He added that Laya is offering free cover for families with two or more children under the age of 18.
Aviva customers on the Business Plan Select Plus should switch to Health Plan 16.1. Those on Aviva Level 2 Hospital will save by signing up for Health Plan 16.1.
GloHealth customers on Better Plan Ultra Cash will save by switching to the Best Smart plan. The insurer offers free cover for children under three years of age, Mr Goode said.
It recently emerged that as many as three out of four people with health insurance are still on the wrong plans and pay too much.
Mr Goode said even those who take the trouble to review their cover do not realise that you need to do this annually, as with car or home insurance.
Other tips for reducing the cost of your health insurance include splitting your cover. This involves putting the adults on a high plan and children on lower cost cover.
If your son or daughter is in college, then you should claim student rates. This applies for those between the ages of 18 and 20. But don't expect the insurer to offer these student rates to you.
Always worth considering are so-called "corporate deals". These are health insurance plans put in place to capture corporate clients who pay for the health cover of their staff. The plans are not marketed to families, but by law have to be made available if you ask for one. The benefits tend to be better and the costs lower.
Another option is to take an excess for a reduced premium. This is the amount you have to pay when you make a claim.
And it is worth switching insurer for better deals. You don't have to re-serve your waiting periods again.