Friday 9 December 2016

Thousands of families paying over the odds for health insurance

Published 24/05/2016 | 10:17

Thousands of families are overpaying for health cover. Photo: Getty
Thousands of families are overpaying for health cover. Photo: Getty

Four out of five consumers who have health insurance are on the wrong plan, according to research by one of the country’s leading health insurance experts.

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This means thousands of families are overpaying for health cover.

And employers who pay some or all of the health insurance costs of staff are not getting the best value in the market, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie

Some 2.12 million people now have health insurance, up 4,000 since last December, according to recent research from the Health Insurance Authority.

Mr Goode said 80pc of those with health cover are on a plan that is too expensive or does not give them the benefits they need.

This implies that up to 1.7 million people could be on unsuitable plans.

The health insurance expert said consumers make it too easy for insurers to keep them on plans that do not suit them and are too expensive.

“But we can’t lump all the blame on insurers – as consumers we need to be more proactive in terms of reviewing our cover properly to bag healthcare savings wherever possible.”

He said that both consumers purchasing individual plans and employers spending hundreds of thousands on employee cover need to do more to ensure they have the right plan.

There are some 420 health insurance plans from the four insurers, with companies changing the benefits on existing plans, increasing prices and bringing out new schemes at regular intervals.

Mr Goode, who is speaking at the Future Health Summit in the Citywest Convention Centre near Dublin, said too few people review their cover.

“If we do go to review, we generally leave it too late, and even when we phone the insurer we ask the wrong questions and are too accepting of the first answer as the final answer.”

He said that those who are on the same plan for two years or more are usually overpaying by the greatest extent. These people could make savings of 20pc-plus, he said.

Employer schemes stand to make the biggest savings, often up to 20pc .

“To make these savings you need to put the health insurers ‘under pressure’ as too many consumers make it too easy for them to recommend the plans that suit them,” Mr Goode said.

Irish Independent

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