HEALTH insurers will be free to continue tempting families with special offers after the Government agreed to amend legislation that was due to ban the deals.
Aviva, Laya and Glo all have offers at the moment for families that are renewing or taking out cover with them for the first time.
Initial plans to force insurers to give three months' notice before making any change to a health plan would have sent health premiums soaring, experts said.
But Health Minister James Reilly has now agreed to amend legislation going through the Dail so that insurers have to give only 30 days' notice of any changes to plans.
The notice period requirements are part of the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill that will put in place a permanent risk-equalisation scheme – a way of compensating insurers that have older and more expensive customers.
Dermot Goode, of healthinsurancesavings.ie, said taking away the option for health insurers to offer deals would have sent premiums shooting up for families and for those who have corporate plans.
Most special offers involve free cover or heavy discounts for children as young families make fewer claims than older people.
And insurers use discounts to tempt employers to buy corporate plans.
The majority of offers are in January and August when most people renew their cover.
Three of the four insurers have special offers for those renewing their cover or taking out new policies:
• Aviva is offering €100 off its Family Value Plan for adults and it has reduced the price for children to €128. Mr Goode said this meant there were potential savings of €400 for a family of two adults and two children taking out this policy during December.
Mr Goode said a family on Aviva's Level 2 Hospital Plan could cut their annual premium from €3,078 to €1,924 by switching to Family Value.
• Laya Healthcare is offering half price for children and students on its Health Smart plan. This will mean children and students can be insured for €130 each.
Mr Goode advised putting children or students on this plan and putting adults on a different one.
• GloHealth will reduce the adult price on its Best plan from the start of December. Adult premiums will be reduced from €1,025 to €990. This will mean a saving of €70 for two adults.
GloHealth also offers free cover to children under three on its Better and Best plans, and will be extending this offer to include the Ultra Plan and Ultimate Plans from the start of December, Mr Goode said.
A spokesman for VHI Healthcare said it was not offering special offers at the moment.