'Scramble' by rivals as health insurer targets young families
HEALTH insurers were scrambling yesterday to respond to new player GloHealth which launched a range of low-priced plans aimed at young families.
The insurer will target families with young children with plans that are up to €600 cheaper than those offered by rivals. It said it covers all public and private hospitals.
However, its core plans will be less attractive to older people as the basic cover requires people to pay the first €2,000 for a procedure such as a hip replacement.
Dermot Goode of healthinsurancesavings.ie said: "VHI, Laya and Aviva will react. There will be a scramble now by them to see what they can offer and how quickly. There will be a lot of offers across the market. From the consumers' point of view, it is happy days."
But he cautioned families not to sign up for the new insurer without checking exactly what benefits they will get.
This was particularly important for those with a corporate plan, as these were likely to cover day-to-day expenses for going to a GP.
And he warned that consumers still need to be cautious about changing as they may be locked into one-year contracts, making them liable for financial penalties if they break out within 12 months.
The new insurer, which said it will create 150 jobs, is to offer three core plans.
These -- called Good, Better and Best -- have already been included on the Health Insurance Authority's comparison tool at www.hia.ie. There will be no corporate plans.
Families can choose free add-ons such as free travel insurance, free flu vaccine, or free family first aid courses.
With the Better and Best plans, all children are covered for free until they are three.
GloHealth customers will also be able to choose benefit packages, depending on their requirements, at an extra cost.
Chief executive Jim Dowdall said its policies would be particularly attractive to young families but he insisted older people would also benefit. "We are making a promise that everyone will get better value."
A family of two adults and two children can save up to €465 switching from VHI's One+ Plan to GloHealth's Better plan, if one child is under three. A saving of €622 can be made on the Laya Essential Complete plan for the same family.
An adult on Aviva's Level 2 Hospital can save €266 if they switch to GloHealth's Best plan.
Some 24,000 consumers cancelled their private health cover in the first three months of this year.
This was on top of the 66,000 who cancelled in 2011.
Glo Health's policies will be particularly attractive to those with young families or those who want flexibility in the structure of their cover, Mr Goode said.
The new insurer is 49pc owned by Irish Life, with global insurer Munich Re underwriting its policies.