Price reductions along with enhanced day-to-day cover, lower excesses and new product benefits across a range of plans have been announced by the State’s health insurer.
“This is good news for our customers,” said the Vhi’s director of marketing and business development, Declan Moran.
Health insurance expert Dermot Goode said the move was welcome, especially with the peak renewal period drawing near.
However, he pointed out some of the discounts were very small — in the region of €30 per adult.
“But given that most customers would be bracing themselves for increases, this is a positive development,” he said.
The Vhi has changed the adult rate for 26 of 78 of its adult plans — 33% of the total, but most of the plans have only been reduced by 1%, with the more expensive ones reduced by 5%.
Mr Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie said those on the old Plan D, now called Health Plus Premium that covers the high-tech hospitals, would see a reduction of 5% per adult, or €173.
Those on Health Plus Extra that used to be known as Plan B, and Health Plus Choice, once known as Plan C, will see minor reductions of between €30-€40 per adult.
“This is small in the context of the overall premium, but it’s obviously better than the price increases that most consumers are expecting,” said Mr Goode.
He pointed out, on many of the popular plans, the excesses for out-patient benefits will reduce from between €300 and €200 per adult to around €100.
Mr Goode said some of the allowances for eligible out-patient expenses would rise, increasing the probability of a refund for members.
“The 7% reduction in young adult rates and 12% on child rates will be welcome news for hard-pressed families.” he said.
Vhi has reduced the young adult rate for 18 to 20-year-olds across most plans by around 7%.
“This will help to lessen the effect of the step-up from child to adult rates for members turning 18 years of age and will benefit families at a time of financial pressure,” it stated.
The insurer has also aligned child rates on 27 plans, and the average reduction is 12%. It will continue to run offers on child rates from time to time.
The cost of some of the Vhi’s most competitive corporate plans will reduce by between 2% and 5% per adult.
“Overall, this is a welcome and surprising development, which bucks the usual trend of prices increases in the run-up to the peak renewal period,” said Mr Goode. He said it was too soon to tell what effect it would have on the overall market.
Most of the Vhi’s product and price changes take effect on November 1.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved