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'Our mortgage was more important'

WHEN Siobhan O'Neill White and her husband David lost their jobs, they tried to continue paying for private health insurance for their family.

However, with spiralling premiums and recession, eventually it was the mortgage that won out.

The Co Meath couple, who have four children – aged 10, eight, five and one – had enjoyed good health insurance packages with their employers.

"When I was made redundant that was the end of them paying for my health insurance. We hung on to it for a while but then we just couldn't afford it any longer," explained Siobhan.

"I do worry about not having insurance, but we have to pay the mortgage and that's difficult enough with the kids going to school and paying for everything."

Siobhan, who runs parenting website mumstown.ie, makes sure the family eats a healthy diet and is fit and active. There are no sugary drinks in the house and she hopes this will cut down on expensive visits to the dentist.

"When you have a family you do worry 'what will happen if I don't have health insurance'. But if you look at how much you're paying a year and what the cost would be if, God forbid, your child broke a leg, often you're paying a lot more on the 'what if'," she said.

When it comes to the birth of her children, she went semi-private for her eldest, private for her second and then went public for the third and fourth.

She said her experiences of the semi-private and private systems were a "waste of money" and reassured others struggling to pay health insurance that they do not need to pay for their maternity care.

Irish Independent