Thursday 16 August 2018

Sinead Ryan: It's surprising the extra bonuses that your health insurance can offer

(stock image)
(stock image)
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

Just before Christmas, Vhi Healthcare kicked off a price war by announcing reductions in premium rates on health insurance, prompting competitors Laya and Irish Life to respond similarly.

There's a reduction also due in the prohibitively high government levy on some plans, so perhaps for the first time in a long time we'll see more customers able to afford private health insurance cover.

This week, however, I'm looking at the free or discounted add-ons that many policies already have.

Lots of people only dig out their policy when something goes wrong, but preventative procedures are far more valuable.

Here's a round-up of what you might already be benefiting from, so take a look at your plan to see.

The panel shows what each of the three providers has in terms of doctor-led online or phone services, which can give parents in particular peace of mind when their child is ill.

These phone lines were roundly denounced by departing HSE head Tony O'Brien, but if it saves adding further to A&E trolley lists, why not use them as a first port of call?

It's worth in all cases taking a look at your existing policy to see what you can avail of, or give the insurer's call centre a buzz to ask them. You might be surprised.

Irish Life Health

* Money back (up to €250) on some sports club/gym membership/children's fitness classes, dietician or nutritionist consultations, sports massage, fitness wearables and even life coaching sessions on BeneFit plans.

* Health in the Home offers clinical care from specialised nurses, backed up by a 24-hour helpline.

* Back-Up offers assessments for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for neck and back pain.

* Discounted dental access package via Smiles clinics

* Child speech and language therapy cash-back on Family Focus plan (€30 per visit for 10 visits).

* Post-Natal home help: four hours domestic help or €120 in lieu.

Read more: 'We've just adopted a rescue dog with health problems - should we get pet insurance?'

VHI

* Vhi SwiftCare clinics for walk-in urgent care. This has been curtailed to members-only, so it's much quicker than before. There are unlimited visits, with 50pc cover on follow-up treatment.

* Vhi Hospital@Home allows suitable patients to leave hospital earlier and continue certain treatments in their own home under the care of its nurses and doctors.

* Medical screening in Dublin and Cork for cancer and cardiac check.

* Maternity and baby bundles offer 75pc cover, up to €600, towards yoga classes, breast-feeding consultations or baby massage classes, depending on plan. There is also foetal screening and a new parents' meal pack delivered to your door.

* Fertility programme offers discounts on consultations with ReproMed, tests and contributions towards IUI and IVF cycles.

* Full cover for mammo- grams, accommodation support, psycho-oncology counselling and hairpieces/prosthesis on a wide number of insurance plans.

* Fitness-screening benefit from this month, with follow-up visit to Sports Surgery Clinic. A strength and conditioning coach will be refunded on many plans.

* Vee is a running chat-bot with hints, hacks and training advice.

LAYA

* Healthcoach: Consultation with a qualified health coach, with personalised eight-week health programme encompassing all aspects of health, including fitness, nutrition and mental well-being.

* HeartBeat cardiac screening - screens for underlying cardiac abnormalities that may be lead to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (one every two years).

* Cancer screening offers a contribution towards screening for cervical and breast cancer and blood tests for prostate and colon cancer with GPs.

* Half of the cost of an executive health check every two years, which includes a full physical examination and consultation with a physician, chest X-ray, stress tests, a dietician consultation if appropriate and more. The tests all depend on an individual's age, lifestyle and plan.

* Laser eye surgery: 15pc discount in approved centres.

* Super Troopers - Ireland's first health homework programme now activated in 1,500 primary schools, with 240,00 schoolchildren taking part.

This free programme is designed by teachers in collaboration with a team of experts in the areas of psychology, nutrition, well-being and physical activity to instil healthier habits at a younger age and embed healthy attitudes towards nutrition and fitness among families.

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