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Charlie Weston: 'Many over-60s are overpaying for health insurance because they are afraid to switch'

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Retired people are more likely to be overpaying  for insurance than any other age group. (Stock photo)

Retired people are more likely to be overpaying for insurance than any other age group. (Stock photo)

Retired people are more likely to be overpaying for insurance than any other age group. (Stock photo)

If you are over the age of 60 there is a good chance that you are overpaying for your health insurance. Often older people are paying double what they need to for health insurance, an expert has found.

Retired people are more likely to be overpaying than any other age group because they are least likely to switch to get better benefits and lower the cost of their cover.

They are also often on dated and expensive plans that have been superseded by cheaper schemes that give better value. Even those who consider themselves financially savvy, and make the smart move to get a corporate health plan may be paying too much.

This is because they have stayed on the same corporate plan for years, and the plan has been superseded by better-value ones.

Overpayment amounts are typically around €500 per adult a year, according to a survey by Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.

He said that those who seek out better value plans can save up to €1,000 a year.

The survey confirms a recent report by the regulator, the Health Insurance Authority, that found that the over-60s pay far more than younger people for their health insurance.

Many people over 60 are retired on fixed incomes or approaching retirement. And these are the very people who can least afford to be overpaying but also who cannot afford to take chances with their cover.

Older people were typically on dated plans such as VHI Health Plus Choice and Health Plus Extra. Others are on Laya's Essential Plus Excess and Health Smart, or Irish Life Health's Level 2 Hospital.

He said a dated plan with VHI is the Company Plan Extra Level 2 at €1,710 per adult. Another version of this plan offering similar benefits is available at €1,548, which these members should consider. Laya corporate plans such as Company Care Excess, which is €1,890 per adult, and Company Care Plus at €2,084 are on the market now for some time. Some of the insurer's more up-to-date corporate plans cost €1,250 to €1,600, and offer equally good cover, Goode said.

Irish Life Health corporate plans have been on the market for some time, such as Business Plan Select and Business Plan Plus, which cost around €2,100 per adult.

The latest corporate plans provide equivalent, if not better, overall cover and savings of €500 to €650, he said.

When it is time to renew it is best to check out the different plans that are available. Get advice from a good health insurance adviser if you find this too confusing. And do not be afraid to switch.

The alternative is to pay too much for your cover.

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