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Having healthy adult dependents on old dated health insurance cover is a waste of money

Having healthy adult dependents on old dated health insurance cover is a waste of money

Some 45pc of the population are due to renew their health cover between January and March

Some 45pc of the population are due to renew their health cover between January and March

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Having healthy adult dependents on old dated health insurance cover is a waste of money

WE are now approaching the busiest time for health insurance renewals.

Some 45pc of the population are due to renew their cover between January and March. Almost 20pc of the market, or 400,000 members, will renew their cover in January alone.

Many of these will be hit by the numerous price increases that were introduced in February and March this year, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.

This is of particular concern to older members who need to retain quality health cover but don't have the resources to keep absorbing these rate hikes, he said.

While shopping around can save you money, many find it difficult to source the best plans or to make like-for-like comparisons.

Here Mr Goode provides some tips and practical advice to help you keep excellent cover in place without paying over the odds.

 

Are you over insured?

Unfortunately, many older members remain on dated plans which still provide good cover but are very expensive. 

In some cases, there might be similar cover available from your existing provider that will generate much-needed savings for you as the example below illustrates.

 

VHI alternatives to Health Plus Extra

Health Plus Extra (B Options) -

Adult Price: €2234.

Health Plus Access (Plan B) - High-tech cardiac cover drops to 90% -

Adult Price: €1820. Savings: €414 (19%)

Health Plus Excess (B Excess) - €75 excess applies to private hospital admissions -

Adult Price: €1599. Savings: 635 (28%)

 

Laya: Alternative for those on Essential Plus

Essential Plus -

Adult Price: €2345

Total Health No Excess - Equivalent plan to Essential Plus

Adult Price: €1572. Savings: €773 (33%)

 

Aviva: Alternative for those on Level 2 Hospital

Level 2 Hospital -

Adult Price: €1957

Health Plan 02 - Similar plan to Level 2 Hospital

Adult Price: €1727. Savings: €230 (12%)

 

If you are on the same plan for more than two years or if you have never fully reviewed your cover, do it now as you're more than likely over-paying for your cover, Mr Goode says.

Remember that all insurers must give you full credit for waiting periods already served with other insurers.

This means that if you switch to an equivalent plan with another insurer, you are on cover immediately.

By law, they can't ask you about your previous medical history or any pending treatment as this has no bearing on your premium.

 

Private rooms - are they worth it?

For those who are paying extra to be covered for a private room in private hospitals, you need to ask yourself two questions:

(a) Do I really want that private room? If not, then you can keep your cover for the same hospitals but generate good savings by dropping to semi-private cover.

(b) Can I source equivalent cover that keeps my private room cover in place but at a lower premium?

The table below illustrates the massive savings that can be made by either sourcing a more up-to-date plan, or giving up the private room completely.

 

Alternatives for those covered for a private room in private hospitals

Currently on VHI Health Plus Choice (old Plan C) -

Adult Price: €2731

Switch to VHI Health Plus Extra - Covers semi-private in same private hospitals -

Adult Price: €2234. Savings: 497 (18%)

 

Currently on Laya Health Manager -

Adult Price: €3907

Switch to Total Health Select - Equivalent cover which maintains private room -

Adult Price: €1653. Savings: €2254 (58%)

 

Currently on Aviva We Level -

Adult Price: €32992

Switch to Level 2 Complete Health - Covers semi-private in private hospitals -

Adult Price: €2610. Savings:382 (13%)

 

Currently on GloHealth Ultra Plan -

Adult Price: €2249

Switch to Best Plan - Covers same hospitals semi-private but co-payments will apply to certain orthopaedic procedures in private hospitals -

Adult Price: €1463. Savings: €786 (35%)

 

Remember that you can split your cover if needs be. For example, one member values a private room and therefore remains on a more expensive plan whereas their partner is quite happy in semi-private accommodation and they reduce their cover.

Both can remain on different plans but all still on the one policy with the same insurer.

 

The expensive, high-tech plan option

What are the options for those insured on the expensive High-Tech plans such as VHI Health Plus Premium, Laya's Health Manager Silver or Aviva's We Level 4?

Well, first action is to seek lower-cost equivalents which is becoming harder to do as the table below shows.

These plans were hardest hit by the tax relief reduction from October 2013 and many members on these top plans have had to reduce their cover simply because they can no longer afford them, Mr Goode says.

 

Alternatives for those covered for a semi-private room in High-Tech Hospitals such as Mater Private, Blackrock Clinic or Beacon Hospital

Currently on VHI Health Plus Premium (old Plan D) -

Adult Price: €3350

Consider VHI Company Plan Executive Excess - Covers semi-private in same private hospitals with a €125 excess in high-tech hospitals only -

Adult Price: €3076. Savings: €274 (8%)

 

Currently on Laya Health Manager Silver -

Adult Price: €4521

Consider the Laya Empower Create Scheme -

Adult Price: €3487. Savings: 1034 (23%)

 

Currently on Aviva We Level -

Adult Price: €44210

Consider the Aviva Health Plan 09 -

Adult Price: €3556. Savings: €654 (16%)

 

It's also worth noting that GloHealth has a plan called Ultimate which costs €3,399. It covers the above hospitals and may be worth considering to save money. If you can no longer afford the above plans, then you need to consider the alternatives outlined in previous tables.

However, you need to understand that by reducing your cover, you may retain full cover for the high-tech hospitals for certain cardiac operations and day-case procedures but you will incur shortfalls for all other procedures in these facilities, Mr Goode warned. Remember, if you are over 65, you should never reduce your cover without getting proper advice.

All insurers have an upgrade rule, which means that if you reduce your cover and then increase it again from a future renewal date, they will restrict your benefits to your previous plan for all existing medical conditions for the next five years.

In other words, you will pay for the higher cover for the next five years, but the additional 'upgraded' element of the cover won't apply during that period.

Therefore, if you reduce your cover, you must be prepared to remain on this level of cover indefinitely. If in doubt, don't switch, is the advice of Mr Goode.

If you are one of the few members paying for private-room cover in these high-tech hospitals, drop down one level to semi-private for huge savings, but identical cover, bar the private room as the example below illustrates.

 

Alternatives for those covered for a private room in high-tech hospitals

 

Currently on VHI Health Plus Platinum (old Plan E) -

Adult Price: €4843

Switch to VHI Health Plus Premium (old Plan D) -

Adult Price: €3350. Savings: €1493 (31%)

 

Currently on Laya Essential Gold -

Adult Price: €6150

Consider the Laya Empower Create Scheme -

Adult Price: €3487. Savings: €2663 (43%)

 

Currently on Aviva We Level  -

Adult Price: €5515

Consider the Aviva Health Plan 09  -

Adult Price: €3556. Savings: €1959 (36%)

 

If a private room is important to you, there are other alternatives such as the Laya Company Care Gold (€4,148) and Glo's Ultimate Plan (€3,399), which will still save you money.

 

Adult dependents

What should you do with those expensive adult dependents still on your policy?

The first option is to try and get them to take out their own cover in their own name. When that fails, the next option is to consider "splitting" your cover.

Having healthy adult dependents on old dated health insurance cover is a waste of money. You should consider ensuring them on some of the quality corporate plans that now exist on the market.

These provide excellent cover for public and private hospitals but also give guaranteed refunds for a whole range of routine medical expenses such as routine dental, physiotherapy, GP, consultants' fees and many more.

The following are the leading plans on the market now:

 

Alternative Corporate plans

VHI Healthcare - Health Plus Access (Plan B) -

Adult Price: €1819

Consider: PMI 3613 -

Adult Price: €1123. Savings: €696 (38%)

 

Laya Healthcare - Essential Plus with Excess -

Adult Price: €1507

Consider: Connect Care 100 -

Adult Price: €1186. Savings: €321 (21%)

 

Aviva Health - Level 2 Hospital Excess -

Adult Price: €1577

Consider: Health Plan 16.1 -

Adult Price: €1137. Savings: €440 (28%)

 

GloHealth Best Plan -

Adult Price: €1463

Consider: Best Plan Excess Cash -

Adult Price: €1144. Savings: €319 (22%)

 

All these corporate options are available to every consumer.

Leave the parents on the higher plans and ensure the adults on the lower cost options.

Please note that most of these corporate options carry co-payments on certain procedures and excesses per admission to private hospitals, so always check the cover before buying to ensure it matches your needs.

 

Policy excess

One of the best ways to reduce your costs is to take on a policy excess. 

This is a small deductible that applies to every private hospital admission only.

It is not per night and doesn't affect your cover when admitted to public hospitals as a private patient.

Once again, do the sums to see if the saving justifies the additional risk you'll be taking on.

The table below gives you some idea of the level of savings possible with this tactic.

 

Take on an excess for private hospital admissions

Currently on VHI Health Plus Extra (Old B Options)

Adult Price: €2234

Switch to VHI Health Plan Excess (Old B Excess) - €75 Excess -

Adult Price: €1599. Savings: €635 (28%)

 

Currently on Laya Essential Plus

Adult Price: €2345

Switch to Laya Simply Health Excess - €125 to €200 excess

Adult Price: €1297. Savings: €1048 (45%))

 

Currently on Aviva Level 2 Hospital

Adult Price: €1957

Switch to Aviva Health Plan 16 - €75 Excess

Adult Price: €1248. Savings: €709 (36%)

 

Currently on GloHealth Best Plan

Adult Price: €1463

Switch to GloHealth Better Plan - €50 to €100 Excess

Adult Price: €1163. Savings: €300 (21%)

 

Don't forget the upgrade rule

If you opt for an excess plan and decide to increase your cover at next renewal to a plan with no excess, bear in mind the upgrade rule that will leave you paying the excesses for any pre-existing condition for the next two to five years, depending on your age.

Irish Independent