Health insurance – FAQ

We’ve set out below the most common questions that we are asked. However at Lyons Financial Services, we’re delighted to answer all of your questions so please feel free to call us to discuss your particular query.

Q. What is private health insurance?

Private health insurance is insurance that helps cover all or part of medical costs incurred. Other benefits may also be provided such as day to day benefits, e.g. GP, Dentists or Physiotherapy as part of your policy.

Q. Who provides private health insurance in Ireland?

There are two types of private health insurer in Ireland:

Open Membership Insurers must provide insurance to everybody who requests it from them. Currently there are five such insurers operating in Ireland, namely Irish Life Health, GloHealth, Laya Healthcare, Vhi Healthcare and HSF Health Plan. Only the first four provide cover for hospital inpatient costs.

Restricted Membership Insurers provide insurance to people who are members of a particular group, normally a vocational group or employees of a particular organisation and their dependants. For example, such schemes are operated for members of the Garda Síochána and their dependants and for employees of the ESB and their dependants.

Q. Can anyone buy private health insurance?

Yes, the providers are obliged to accept you regardless of your health or age. However waiting periods may apply.

Q. Will my age affect my private health insurance premium?

No. The health insurance system applying in Ireland is called community rating. In a community rated system everyone pays the same premium for a given health insurance plan, except as follows:

  • The premium for children must be no more than 50% of the adult premium.
  • The premium for full-time dependant students under the age of 23 may be reduced. Where the premiums are reduced, it must not be more than 50% of the adult premium.
  • The premium may be reduced by up to 10% for members of group schemes.
  • Pensioners who are members of restricted membership insurers may have their premiums reduced.

Q. What plans are available to me?

You are eligible to access any plan available in the market. As an example, you do not have to work in a company to access a plan that is aimed at company employees.

Q. Can I be refused health insurance?

No, however some waiting periods may apply for some benefits.

Q. What is involved in taking out private health insurance?

The process is simple, you can either complete an application form or simply call us on 01 8015808 and we can set you up over the phone

Q. Is there a waiting period before cover is in place?

It depends. If you are taking out cover for the first time, your previous cover had lapsed for more than 13 weeks or you are upgrading your cover, a waiting period will apply.

Q. If my health deteriorates, can my health insurer stop covering me?

No, as there is a system of lifetime cover in Ireland. This means that once you have cover, the insurer cannot stop the cover and must also allow the renewal of the cover each year.

Q. Can I claim tax relief on my health insurance premiums?

Private health insurance premiums attract income tax relief at source at the standard rate (currently, as at March 2013, 20%). The premium charged by the insurer will automatically take account of this relief.

Q. How can I pay for my health insurance?

You can pay by direct debit, annual credit/debit card, and annual cheque. In some cases, your employer will facilitate payment by salary deduction.

Q. Do I have to wait until my renewal date to upgrade my plan?

No, you can upgrade your plan at any time. Our team will be happy to give you advice on which plan would be most appropriate for you. Please note that a waiting period may apply to the upgrade in cover.

Laya Healthcare, GloHealth & Irish Life Health will allow you to change your plan mid-year.

Vhi Healthcare will provide a 14 day cooling-off period from your renewal date, where you may switch plans within Vhi, keeping the same renewal date. Vhi will not allow a switch mid-term after this time.

Q. What is involved in switching cover?

The process is simple, you can either complete an application form or simply call us on 01 8015808 and we can set you up over the phone

Q. Can I switch cover at any time?

No

In general, health insurance policies are 12 month contracts. All insurers will provide a 14 day cooling-off period from the commencement of the contract, during which time you may cancel and get a full refund. No claims will be paid in respect of these 14 days. The current market practice of each provider is as follows;

Irish Life Health
With effect from the 1 August 2012, Irish Life Health no longer allow mid-term cancellations for new and renewing customers. Where a policyholder cancels their policy prior to the end of the policy year, or does not pay their premium in accordance with the terms of the policy for the full duration of the policy year, Irish Life Health will charge a mid-term cancellation fee.

The mid-term cancellation charge will consist of the health insurance levy calculated on a pro-rata basis for each adult, student and child on the policy for the remainder of the policy term, together with an administration fee of €25 per policy.

If you have a policy with Irish Life Health which renewed prior to the 1 August 2012, you are still on the old contract terms and you may cancel mid-term as long as you’ve had no inpatient or day-patient claims and a proportion of the premium will be refunded to you.

If you have had inpatient or day-patient claims, you will be charged the full year’s premium. If you have an outpatient claim, they will allow you to cancel, but they will pay the outpatient claim on a pro-rata basis.
However Irish Life Health will allow you to change your plan mid-term and you may remove or add dependants to your policy mid-term.

GloHealth
GloHealth policies are for a 12 month period. If you cancel within the first 14 days there is a cooling-off period where they will cancel the contract and give you a full refund.

Mid-term cancellations will not receive any premium refund and the balance of the year’s premium will be due. If there have been no claims, GloHealth may apply a penalty equal to the health insurance levy for breach of contract rather than collecting the remaining premium. This will be at GloHealth’s discretion.

However GloHealth will allow you to change your plan mid-term and you may remove or add dependants to your policy mid-term.

Laya healthcare
Laya healthcare contracts are for a period of one year unless they agree to a different period when starting your policy. If you do cancel mid-year, you will not receive any refund on your premium. If you don’t pay your premiums, laya healthcare will consider this a breach of contract and will not pay any benefits for the contract term and may seek the remainder of the premium.

This new policy was introduced on 18 June 2012 and will apply to all new and renewing customers from this date.

Customers with current policies that renewed prior to 18 June 2012 may cancel their policies mid-term if they’ve had no inpatient or day patient claims and premiums for the remainder of the term will be refunded.
However Laya Healthcare will allow you to change your plan mid-term.

Vhi Healthcare
Vhi do not allow mid-term cancellations. If you stop paying your premium mid-term and have had no claims, they will charge you a penalty for breach of contract. This is equal to the health insurance levy, per person, on a pro-rata basis, for the remaining period left on the policy plus a €50 administration fee per policy.

Payment of this penalty does not affect your rights to take out a policy with another insurer.

If you have had claims in this policy year, Vhi will charge the full year’s premium.

Vhi Healthcare will provide a 14 day cooling-off period from your renewal date, where you may switch plans within Vhi, keeping the same renewal date, or you may switch to another insurer. Vhi will not allow a switch mid-term after this time.


What Our Clients Say

Just want to say thank you for all your help and advice and for being so patient with us. We are so delighted with our new home. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you and God bless.

Mae & Ramir

Many thanks for all your assistance in dealing with my claim under the Income Protection Scheme for period Jan 16 to Nov 16. For your efficiency and keeping in touch with me throughout and for all your work with the insurance company.

Rosaleen, Co. Laois

Many thanks for all your help and assistance in switching our health insurance. We were anxious about switching but you made the whole thing so easy and saved us a fortune as well. We can now afford a family holiday as a result.

Eamonn and Jackie, Co Galway

Lyons Financial Services arranged our Mortgage, Income Protection and Health Insurance and saved us so much time and money. They are so nice and efficient; we will always deal with them in the future.

Angela & Peter, Tuam, Co. Galway

Get our Newsletter

Please fill in your details below to receive our emails.