RETIRED primary school principal Michael Murphy has had health insurance since he started teaching in the 1970s.
He had to retire early from his post at St. Thomas National School in Jobstown, Tallaght, in Dublin, due to ill health. His advice to young working people is to take out health insurance, if they can afford it.
Mr Murphy has been a member of VHI, and feels he has got value from his years of paying for his policy. "If I had not got to VHI, I do not know what I would have done," he says.
Living in Lucan with his wife Mary, Mr Murphy has had a succession of illnesses which forced him to retire in 2009. Treatment for the "teachers' illness" of varicose veins, something due to being on his feet all day, was relatively minor compared to what was to follow.
He had kidney failure in 2003, requiring dialysis at home. He was later treated for prostate cancer.
All of this meant he was in and out of hospital, making use of his VHI health insurance. Mr Murphy, who is 66, ended up having a kidney transplant. He later had three strokes.
"Things went downhill from there. I was a long time in hospital," he says.
His eyesight has been damaged, but he can still play golf if he has help locating the ball after a wayward shot. When he retired, he got a teacher's pension based on 39 and three-quarter years' service, just missing out on the maximum of 40 years' service.
Mrs Murphy is a few years from retirement, but has taken carer's leave from her position as a hotel services facilities manager at the Stewart's care facility in Palmerstown, Dublin.
They two sons and a daughter - Eamonn, Declan and Catherine. The Murphys regard saving regularly as important. Mr Murphy recommends having money taken out of a pension or wages at source and put straight into a savings account.
"You need savings. You never know what is going to happen," he says.