Thursday 27 November 2014

What healthcare customers need to consider before changing policies

Published 15/07/2014 | 02:30

Health  insurance form
Health insurance form

Older members – key considerations

THE overall numbers of people with health insurance continues to contract, but the statistics show that older members are holding on to their cover.

But increasing costs combined with the reduced tax relief are forcing many of the over 50s to shop around for better value.

Here are some key issues that you should consider.

Get better value

IF you have not reviewed your cover in the last two years, then the odds are that you are paying too much for your health insurance.

Do not be afraid to switch

MANY members resist switching, but for the wrong reasons.

They mistakenly believe that they will have to observe waiting periods, which is not the case.

Under the legislation, all health insurers must give you full credit for waiting periods served assuming you are switching to an equivalent plan.

Watch co-payments

OLDER members, especially those with orthopaedic issues, need to be careful of co-payments on restricted procedures.

A co-payment is where the insured person has to pay a set amount towards the cost of specified treatments.

If you accept that you will be liable for co-payments and if you reduce your cover and try to increase it at some future stage, an upgrade rule will apply for any existing medical conditions.

Do the figures and make sure that any potential savings greatly outweigh the potential co-payment if you had to incur this cost.

Take an excess – but only if it suits

BY taking on an excess in a private hospital, this can greatly reduce your costs. An excess is the amount of a claim you have pay.

However, if you have existing medical conditions and there is a high risk of private hospital admissions, decline the excess as you could end up paying out more than the savings achieved.

Don't overpay for adult dependents

MANY parents continue to pay for their adult dependents to keep them insured.

Consider splitting your cover for these dependents and put them on some of the better-value corporate plans that are available across the market. In some cases, the savings are up to 50pc compared with older hospital plans.

Do you really want a private room?

MANY older members pay a much higher premium for the private room cover. Unless this is essential for you, consider dropping to semi-private accommodation.

Everything else will be the same, but you might save €400–€500 per adult depending on the provider/plan held.

Avoid breaks in cover

IF you break your cover by more than 13 weeks, your insurer is entitled to treat you as a new member subject to all the waiting periods all over again.

Do you want to cover your grandchildren?

WHY not add them to your policy to ensure that they're covered. Depending on your renewal, you might be able to avail of some of the half-price offers in the market.

Corporate plans are for everyone

YOU might not like these plans due to the co-payments and private hospital excesses.

However, they are worth reviewing at your renewal date just to be certain as the pricing is very competitive on these plans.

Irish Independent

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