There are ways to cut your costs in competitive market
THE cost of health insurance has doubled since the downturn hit in 2008, but families are showing a determination to retain their cover.
The good news is that there are ways to retain insurance while at the same time cutting the cost of the premiums.
Q SPLIT YOUR COVER
It doesn't make sense to have everyone on the policy on the same level of cover.
Everyone in the family – both adults and children – has different requirements and you should select a plan for each person. You can actually have everyone on the one policy, but all on different levels of cover, according to Dermot Goode of HealthInsuranceSavings.ie.
Q STUDENT RATES
Many consumers assume that these rates are applied automatically once your dependent turns 18, but this is often not the case. Contact your insurer to claim your student rate to avoid any unnecessary overpayments.
Q TAKE ON A POLICY EXCESS
This is one of the best ways of reducing your costs. An excess is the amount of money you pay when you are treated in hospital before the insurer takes up the rest.
Savings vary, but reductions of at least 10pc may be possible.
Q WATCH FOR OFFERS
Many consumers miss out on valuable cost-savings by not monitoring market developments, according to Mr Goode.
Currently, all insurers have offers for families. These include half-price cover for children and student dependents.
Q GIVE UP PRIVATE ROOM
Private accommodation in private hospitals is never guaranteed, health insurance experts said.
Unless this is critical for you, consider dropping a level for similar cover but big savings.
For example, two adults going from a level five to a level four-type plan could save around €3,000.
Q CHECK OUT THE CORPORATE PLANS
These tend to be the most competitively priced plans on the market and are worth considering before you renew your cover, Mr Goode said.
They normally cover public and private hospitals and usually include some level of day-to-day cover for your routine medical costs.
They include excesses in private hospitals so it is worth checking the benefits fully before buying.
Right now, these are available across the market from as little as €1,123 per adult.
Q BEFORE YOU SWITCH
If you are considering switching to another insurer, it is usually best to wait until your renewal date. Otherwise, you could be hit with penalties and other charges which could easily wipe out any savings you expect to make.
Most insurers treat your health insurance as a 12-month contract. If you cancel midway through that contract and you're with Aviva, VHI and Glo Health, you will usually have to pay the balance of any health insurance levy your insurer has paid on your behalf – which you have not already paid for through premiums.
Q GET ADVICE
Health insurance is complex but it's arguably one of the most important covers to have.
Don't cut corners – seek expert advice from a qualified adviser to ensure that your plan is the best value cover that meets your exact requirements.