Friday 26 December 2014

I'm worried about the rising cost of health insurance -- what are my options?

Picture posed. Thinkstock
Picture posed. Thinkstock

My health insurance policy is up for renewal in January. It provides cover for me, my wife and our three young children. We get free cover for one of the children due to his age but from our next renewal, we will have to start paying for him. I am worried about how I am going to afford the premiums with the increase in costs and reduction in tax relief. What should I do?

-- Simon

It makes sense to review your options before you renew any type of insurance cover. There are ways you can keep your cover without cancelling it entirely. The first thing to do is check what level of cover you have and whether or not it best suits your needs.

If you opt for a more basic plan, you may be able to reduce your premium but still have adequate cover. For example, some plans refund a proportion of the cost of GP visits. This can be beneficial if you have small children and make regular trips to the doctor. However, the Government has announced free GP care for the under-fives, so this benefit may no longer be worth having. You can compare plans on the Health Insurance Authority's website, www.hia.ie.

Other ways you can save are by opting for a cheaper corporate plan that offers similar benefits. These plans are marketed to large organisations but you are entitled to these plans. You can also put your children on a different plan to yourself or opt to pay a higher excess, so if your plan has an excess of €250 and you make a claim, you will have to pay the €250 excess.

If you do decide to cancel or downgrade your cover now, and then seek cover again, you may have to wait a period of time before you are fully covered by your new plan.

You should also be aware that if you sign up to a new health insurance company now, you may have to pay a penalty if you cancel or switch again before your next renewal date.

GOT A QUESTION FOR ÁINE? THEN CONTACT HER AT ACARROLL@INDEPENDENT.IE

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