Health insurers keep families in dark on price cuts
HEALTH insurers have been caught out cutting the prices on a range of health plans paid for by large companies – but families will not be told about the special offers, even though the policies are also open to them.
The insurers have launched a range of new plans specifically aimed at companies that buy health cover for their staff.
Eleven new plans have been launched and seven have had prices slashed on them as the four private health insurers attempt to sign up companies that pay for private cover for their staff.
Insurance experts said the move came ahead of the peak season for policy renewals when VHI, Laya, Aviva and Glo compete to sign up companies.
Some of the plans will only be available for 30 days and the public will not be informed about them, said insurance expert Dermot Goode of www.healthinsurancesavings.ie
While corporate plans are geared towards companies, the law states that they have to be made available to anyone who inquires about them. However, there is no obligation under health-insurance legislation for insurers to market corporate plans to the general public.
Mr Goode said changes had been made to 26 plans, with most of these coming into effect on Saturday, December 1.
This was because most corporates that buy health cover for their staff renew their policies in December.
"The insurers have been caught out offering special deals to their corporate clients," said Mr Goode. "The insurers are doing all sorts of behind-the-scenes deals to lock down their corporate clients.
"The rates on some of these plans will go up in 30 days."
Insurers who introduce a new plan or change its pricing only have to leave it in place for a month.
Mr Goode said that the VHI had cut the price on a plan known as 'PM! 28 12' by 14pc, which meant that the annual price for an adult fell by €150 to €915 on this corporate plan.
Laya has also dropped the price on its corporate plan, Company Plan No Excess, by €57.85 a year, to €1,099 a year.
Aviva has cut the price of its Business Plan Hospital Plus by €73 to €964 a year. New player GloHealth has also reduced the price on some of its corporate plans.
These plans are typically paid for by companies for their staff, with companies also benefiting from a 10pc group discount.
Consumers who ask for a named corporate deal have to be given access to it, with all plans outlined on the health regulator's website, www.hia.ie