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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Your Questions: Is a health cash plan worth the money, or am I over-insured?

 

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Stock photo
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Question: I have a mid-level health insurance plan that covers hospital treatment only. However, I have been paying into a cash plan with HSF for many years as well. Is it a good idea having both, or am I over-insured?

Question: Both are very different plans and normally one complements the other.

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The health insurance plan is designed to get you into hospital quickly and fully cover all your day-case or inpatient costs, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie. The cash plan is not health insurance, as these products are designed to cover all your out-patient costs such as GP, consultant fees, physiotherapy, dental, optical and more. If you want to maintain this standard of health cover - health insurance for the inpatient costs and a cash plan for the outpatient costs - then both products complement each other and you are definitely not over-insured, Mr Goode says. Regarding the cash plan element, you should check out the new 'full cover' cash plans from HSF Health Plan to make sure that you are on the best-value scheme for your needs. As with health insurance, always check your exact cover in advance with your cash plan provider as well.

Question: Three years ago, in my final year of college, I headed over to South Carolina on a J1 visa, and the year before that I went to work in San Diego for the summer. Both years I was lucky enough in that I got a fairly decent job working as a lifeguard. Some friends of mine recently said it is possible to get tax back if you have worked away like that. I never even considered it but I am pretty strapped for cash at the moment. Am I too late?

Question: You would have had to pay income tax on your earnings, and so it certainly may well be the case that you have a refund due to you.

However, time is of the essence on this one as the right to claim becomes null and void after four years, according to the commercial director of Taxback.com Eileen Devereux. Her recommendation is to take action as soon as possible to get the ball rolling.

Being fortunate enough to secure a relatively well-paid seasonal job on both visits increases the potential return that might be due. Our average the US J1 tax refund is around $800, but exactly how much tax you pay depends on how much you earn and where you end up working, Ms Devereux says.

The US operates a progressive tax system, which means that if you have a higher taxable income, you will pay higher tax rates, and vice versa. Taxes also vary state by state.

Your timing is fortuitous because 2018 could signal the final year of this lucrative tax break due to changes introduced by President Trump last year. In introducing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, President Trump eliminated the personal exemption for tax years 2018 through 2025. This is likely to affect the thousands of Irish students who go to the US every summer to work.

To claim a refund, you will need a W2 Form or final cumulative payslip and social security number/ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) number.

Question: My husband and I were really unlucky recently to have had a small break-in to our rented apartment. It has been a bit of a nightmare experience, but thankfully nothing of huge value was taken. We both had our laptops and phones with us at the time and I was wearing my wedding ring. While our landlord has sorted better security arrangements for us, on my end, it has definitely made me think. I thought our property would be covered on the landlord's policy, but he said that this definitely was not the case.

Answer: Break-ins are a lot more common than people realise. So, it is important that both you and your valuables are protected in the form of home security and home insurance respectively.

Unfortunately, you have found out the hard way that when it comes to renting that a landlord's policy does not cover the property of the renter.

We are a generation of technology - iPads, flat screen TVs, surround-sound systems, expensive furniture and gadgets. We are also increasingly becoming a nation of long-term renters. All of which means that people accumulate more and more valuable goods while in a rental home. So it has become increasingly important for renters today to give more thought to insuring their property.

Deirdre McCarthy of InsureMyHouse.ie says that her experience has been that many people are surprised at how affordable the cover is. A contents cover policy for €10,000, would cost around €99, she says.

A health cash plan is designed to cover all your outpatient costs such as GP, consultant fees, physiotherapy, dental, optical and more.

The prevalence of break-ins means it has become increasingly important for renters today to give more thought to insuring their property.

Irish Independent

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