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Friday 15 November 2019

Charlie Weston: Time to end this expensive 'trickery'

A reluctance to change plan and an aversion to switching provider mean that most older people are paying too much for their cover. Stock picture
A reluctance to change plan and an aversion to switching provider mean that most older people are paying too much for their cover. Stock picture
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Fear of change and the deliberate targeting of younger customers by health insurers are combining to cost older people a fortune.

Health insurers do not want to recruit older customers as they cost them too much in claims.

But insurers are content to keep existing older customers on their books as most of them are on the most expensive plans. A reluctance to change plan and an aversion to switching provider mean that most older people are paying too much for their cover.

Although health insurers are content to have older customers paying inflated premiums they do not want to take on any more of them.

That is why all the offers and the best deals are reserved for younger people. These people are least likely to cost insurers in terms of claims costs.

This segmentation of the market - targeting young, profitable customers at the expense of older ones - is barley legal. Indeed, insurers are operating within the letter of the law but not the spirit of it.

Now the Health Insurance Authority has pointed out it is concerned older people are paying more for health insurance than other age groups.

It is to review the regulations to counter the fact older people end up paying more for cover. This would have to be triggered by Health Minister Simon Harris, who would be wise to heed the advice from the Health Insurance Authority on this.

For too long insurers have played fast and loose with the community rating rules. The time has come to call a halt to the trickery that is costing older people a packet.

Irish Independent

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