Consumer group switch focus to health insurance bills

The campaigners who secured deals for over tens of thousands of people on their electricity bills are looking to do the same for health insurance.

One Big Switch has launched the Big Health Insurance Switch, aimed at unlocking more affordable health insurance for thousands of Irish people.

The campaign comes after almost 65,000 people signed up for the One Big Switch campaign for electricity which successfully secured those who went ahead with the offer savings of hundreds of euro on their bill.

The latest campaign is seeking 25,000 people to join up and help address what it calls the “the health insurance affordability crisis” in Ireland.

It aims to convince at least one health insurer to release more affordable products, with experience showing that once this is achieved other providers will be forced to follow suit.

The campaign will work in three steps:

-Consumers register their interest at OneBigSwitch.ie;

-One Big Switch uses the people power of the 25,000+ consumers to unlock more affordable health insurance offers;

-Those who joined the campaign will then decide if the offer is right for them.

The campaign, which was originally founded by Oliver Tattan and Lachlan Harris, has moved into the realm of health insurance because of the high numbers of people being forced out of the health insurance market due to skyrocketing premiums.

For example, the average health insurance premium paid in 2013 was €1,150, which represents a 58% rise since 2008 when it was just €729.

The number insured in the health insurance market peaked at 2.3m, just over half of the population in 2008.

Since then, it has fallen back to 2.05m at the end of last year.

The fall has been particularly stark among younger people.

Between the end 2009 and the end of 2013, the number of adults between the ages of 18 and 50 with health insurance fell 20% (200,000), while the number of adults over 50 with health insurance rose by some 36,000 (6%).

Commenting on the new campaign, One Big Switch director of campaigns Sarah Ryan said the health insurance affordability crisis in Ireland is being driven by rapidly rising prices, putting financial pressure on families who choose to stay in, and driving many families out of the system altogether. She said the latest consumer campaign would help both groups.

“Irish households are fed up with health insurance costs spiralling up and up. Consumers have to take matters in to their own hands, to take real action to help tackle the crisis.

“This campaign is a chance for mums and dads to stop complaining and start acting,” she said.

- Campaign registration is entirely free, and obligation free, at www.OneBigSwitch.ie. Registration closes at midnight on October 31.

Savings plan

The latest campaign by One Big Switch, follows its successful effort to secure better deals for electricity customers.

The Big Energy Switch was Ireland’s biggest ever consumer campaign, with more than 64,000 people registering.

Tens of thousands switched to the exclusive One Big Switch offer or saved on electricity bills as a result of upgrading their offer or shopping around.

For those who agreed to switch, they availed of a 10% discount in year one, plus €80 cash back after 12 months — amounting to an estimated saving of €215 in year one for a typical, three-bedroom household. Existing Bord Gáis Energy customers received a 5% discount for year one with €40 cash back after one year.



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