Tweaking health cover can cut bills by €1,000
FAMILIES can save more than €1,000 on their health insurance by tweaking their cover, it has emerged.
VHI Healthcare said last week that its prices are set to rise by up to 12.5pc next month, the third hike by the State-owned insurer in just over a year, and follows similar hikes by rivals Aviva and Quinn.
Next month's rises mean families on the VHI Parents & Kids plan will have to shell out an additional €280 for cover. Since January 2011 the cost for a family of two adults and two children has shot up by more than €600.
However, an analysis of the market has shown that families can escape the hikes by all three insurers. They can achieve this by opting for cheaper corporate plans that offer similar benefits; by putting children on different plans to the adults; by dropping down to cheaper plans or by switching providers.
People can even make huge savings without having to switch their provider, a study of the healthcare market by Dermot Goode of www.healthinsurancesavings.ie shows.
An adult on the VHI Health Plus Extra plan (it used to be Plan B Options) is paying €1,461 a year. This is due to jump to €1,644 from March 1. But by opting for VHI's One Plus Plan, an adult can save €618. This is based on prices this month.
One of the downsides, Mr Goode said, was that if the consumer is sent to a private hospital they will have pay the first €125 of any claim.
Another alternative for the Health Plus Extra plan consumer is to opt for corporate plan PMI 19 11, for an annual saving of €486. A payment of €75 per admission would have to be met by the consumer.
Mr Goode said all three insurers offer corporate plans marketed at companies. These generally have similar benefits to consumer plans but are often cheaper. Insurers do not advertise these but have to offer them if consumers ask.
A family on Health Plus Extra could save €1,388 by putting the adults on PMI 19 11 and the two children on One Plus Plan.
Adults on Quinn's Essential Plus (no excess) plan can save €565 by dropping down to HealthWise Plus.
However, a family of two adults and two children can save €1,322 by opting for it.
Families on Quinn Essential Plus can knock €1,142 off their premium by opting for the Company Care Choice corporate plan. But they will have to cover between €50 and €200 for any private hospital admission.
Families on Aviva Health's Level 2 Hospital Plan are paying €2,730. By opting for Level 2 Health Excess, which has a €125 excess for each private hospital admission, €885 can be saved.
But Aviva's Business Plan Extra corporate alternative will cost the family €2,165, for a saving of €565. Again, there is a private hospital excess of €75, research by Mr Goode found.
He warned that before choosing a lower-cost option, consumers should check the benefits gains and losses, check if there will be waiting periods for additional benefits, and if there are any illnesses that are not covered, or partially covered.