Charlie Weston: 'Insurers should note that more discerning purchasers of health cover have emerged'
People with health insurance are becoming more discerning about the cover they have, with many now reviewing their policies on an annual basis. Consumers are rejecting high excesses for attending a private hospital, as they feel it is a waste of money to be paying for health cover if they have to shell out each time it is used.
These are some of the findings from a survey of 1,000 policyholders carried out by insurance expert Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie. Insurers would do well to note these trends.
When it comes to reviewing their cover, many people are now opting for policies that guarantee refunds on their outpatient expenses with no excess to pay first.
That is typically what you will achieve on a quality corporate plan that is available to every consumer irrespective of age or occupation. There is tax relief on the cost of outpatient expenses, such as visiting a GP and paying for a prescription, but that only amounts to 20pc of the outlay.
The survey also found that large numbers of people are opting for private-room cover in private hospitals.
Semi-private is not as appealing anymore as people realise they will be sharing the bathroom, the visitors, and the TV of up to four other patients.
Goode said in many cases some of the new private-room corporate plans are less expensive than the dated semi-private corporate versions.
Another consumer trend is that members are now looking to be covered for private A&E services. This is because they do not want to wait up to 12 hours in crowded public A&E facilities and are prepared to pay up to €500 for the privilege of being treated quickly for themselves or their children.
More members are going to the likes of the Hermitage Clinic, Beacon Hospital, VHI Swiftcare and the new Affidea centres.
However, the research shows that most members do not realise that these charges are not fully covered by health insurance plans. A good corporate plan will allow you to claim back around half of the cost at best, but on the dated health insurance plans there may be no refund whatsoever, Goode warned.
Another trend is that many siblings or close family relatives are now assisting their elderly parents or family members in reviewing their cover. They are looking after the review for them to help them save money while still retaining excellent quality cover.
This is a positive development as all too often, it is the older members who are stuck on the most dated schemes and are overpaying by €500 to €1,000 per adult in some cases.
Sunday Indo Business