We are in peak time for health insurance renewals, with more than one million consumers due to renew their cover in the coming months.
With this in mind, the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) is encouraging consumers to review their health insurance policy before they renew, warning that people could miss out on significant savings if they fail to do so.
“Approximately 50% of health insurance policies will be up for renewal in the next three months,” Mr Don Gallagher, Chief Executive of the HIA said.
“We are encouraging consumers to give themselves plenty of time to consider their options by giving their health insurance policy a health check now.”
Reviewing and switching health insurance is one of those tasks we know we should do but end up putting off. If you are tempted to ignore the HIA policy and simply renew when the time comes, don’t let it be because you think there aren’t real savings to be made.
Health insurance providers regularly make changes to policies and pricing, so even if your cover was the right choice for you when you took it out, there could well be a better option available now. Irish providers announced a number of rate increases during 2020. More are due to come into effect at the end of the year and there is an expectation of further increases in 2021.
Health insurance expert Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie has a rule of thumb, which is that anyone who has not reviewed their cover in the last two years is likely paying over the odds.
Think honestly about how long it has been since you reviewed, and how much you might have saved in that time, and set a few hours aside to do some research.
Mr Gallagher says to start by reviewing your existing policy.
“Is it offering you the appropriate cover you need for your stage of life?” he asks. “Does it cover all the treatments you and your family need?
“Is there another plan with your existing provider or another health insurance provider that may suit you better?” He acknowledges health cover can be a complex area but the Authority have an excellent comparison tool on their website www.hia.ie.
It allows you to compare your current plan against others in the market, showing you exactly how plans compare in detail. You can see exactly what multiple plans offer in a whole range of areas, including GP visits, inpatient and outpatient care and maternity benefits.
“Health insurance policies can be hard to understand and knowing what you should look out for is often difficult to figure out,” Mr Gallagher says, highlighting another part of their website.
The HIA’s jargon buster is there to help consumers understand the details of their policies, explaining pre-existing conditions, waiting periods, lifetime community rating and other terms.
For those who cannot or prefer not to go online to research health insurance, the HIA also runs a consumer helpline on 1850 929 166, which anyone can call to find out about the health insurance options available to them.
Whether reviewing or considering purchasing a health insurance policy for the first time, the HIA suggests five simple steps for consumers:
Although the average cost of a plan is €1200 per annum, basic plans start from €500.
Assess what you need and what you want covered by your plan.
Excesses can range from €50 to €600 and increasing your excess will reduce your premium.
Comparing plans across providers can result in better benefits or a cheaper premium.
Visit HIA.ie – The HIA provides free, independent, and trusted information about private health insurance in Ireland.