VHI offers downgrade to redundant workers
The VHI is offering redundant workers an option that is 'a kindness but not a solution' to rising health insurance costs, according to experts.
The programme allows workers who have been made redundant to lower their level of coverage for a one-year period, which will reduce their premium by up to 33 per cent, and then to raise their level of cover to its previous level should they get another job, without penalty.
The measure is attracting increasing interest following hikes in VHI premiums this week of up to 12.5 per cent.
More than 30,000 VHI customers have already availed of the measure -- reflecting the huge number of redundancies and job losses across the economy.
But because the plan isn't sanctioned by other health insurers, it commits the individual to the VHI -- as they would have to endure lengthy waiting periods to change their policy to Quinn or Aviva while on this programme.
Health insurance expert Roisin Lyons, of Lyons Financial Services, says the measure "allows people to retain hope but it's not a super option".
The drop-out rate for health insurance has been running at about 6,000 a month for the last six months -- which represents a much larger number of individuals, as most policies are for families.
Ms Lyons said there was anecdotal evidence that the largest drop was among young men -- the group that is most lucrative to the health insurers as they require the least treatment and fewest procedures.
Many others are downgrading their policies while some are removing their children from the family policy in order to save money, a move that Ms Lyons said was not advisable, especially if children had pre-existing conditions.
The market for health insurance has exploded in recent times and there are now 220 plans available.