Health insurance offer is likely to spark family price war
HEALTH insurers are expected to respond after the VHI said it would now extend its half-price offer for children and students to all its hospital plans.
Insurance experts predicted that we were now likely to see a family price war.
Earlier this week, VHI said it would cut the student and child rates on 61 of its family plans.
The deals apply to those renewing or taking up one of the plans for the first time between July and October.
Now it is to offer the same discounts on 30 corporate plans.
These are plans designed to be attractive to large companies that pay for employees' health insurance.
A VHI Healthcare spokeswoman confirmed that from the start of August to October the cut-price deal for children and students would apply to all corporate plans.
This will take to 91 the number of plans impacted, and is thought to be one of the most extensive discount deals ever offered in the health insurance market.
Health insurance expert Dermot Goode said the move would lead to savings of between €230 and €420 a year for a family of two adults and two children.
For those with a student, in addition to the two children, the savings could be up to €800 a year.
"This will bring some welcome relief for families struggling to maintain their health insurance cover," said Mr Goode, of Healthinsurancesavings.ie.
"Hopefully, this will spark a family price war as the other insurers try and compete with this offer."
He said rivals Laya, Aviva and GloHealth had been planning discounts in a bid to convince families to retain their cover.
This latest move is likely to force them to come up with better offers.
There have been a string of health insurance price rises this year alone, with some plans going up by as much as 41pc.
Some families have responded by dropping their cover, with others dropping down to cheaper plans.
In a bit to ease the pressure, insurers including Glo, now allow families to design their own policies.
Mr Goode worked out that latest offers from VHI will mean a family of two adults and two children will see the cost of the One Plan Family for a year fall by €268 a year to €2,335.
The cost for a family of the Teachers' Plan, which was hit with a 5pc price rise earlier this year, will drop by €360 from August to €3,236.
A family with two adults, one student and two children, will save €800 on the Health Plus Extra (the old Plan B) scheme.