What’s happening in the health insurance market in Ireland?

There’s certainly never a dull moment in the health insurance market in Ireland! The last few months have seen a number of really significant changes that impact the choices and cost of health insurance.


Good news – the market continues to grow

First of all, the health insurance market grew for the 2nd year in a row. In December 2016, there were 2,152,000 people insured with inpatient health insurance plans, up from 2,122,000 people at the end of 2015. However health insurance coverage levels are not yet back up to pre-recession levels. According to CSO population estimates, the percentage of the population with inpatient health insurance plans stands at 46% at end December 2016 compared to the 2008 peak of 50.9%. So there is definitely room for a lot of further growth in the market.


The health insurance government levy has been increased

With effect from 1st April 2017, the government has brought in a 10% hike in health insurance stamp duty levies. These levies are paid into a centralised fund to underpin a risk sharing mechanism in the market called risk equalisation and to enable the cost of plans to remain the same for everyone, regardless of age, gender or health. Under this legislation, products providing advanced cover to adults will see an increase in the levy of €41 to €444 for adults and an increase of €14 to €148 for children.

Even though the government might wish otherwise, the providers really have no choice but to pass this increase on to policyholders. In fact Laya Healthcare have announced that they will carry out premium amendments on 128 schemes from 1 April 2017. Premiums will increase from between 3.6% to 19.2% on adult net premiums over 124 of their plans.

This change is obviously not good news for consumers, except in that it may bring further stability to the market.


Be careful when you go into hospital!

…as it potentially can cause your health insurance premiums to increase!

Back in 2014, the government increased the cost that health insurers pay public hospitals for patients who are admitted as a private patient. Health insurers now pay €813 per day to a public hospital when someone is admitted as a private patient. This is more than 10 times the amount paid when someone is admitted under the public system (€80 per day)!

How does this affect you? Well if you get access to enhanced care as a result of your health insurance through a private or semi private room, well then this increased charge is somewhat justified. However people are arriving in A&E and being asked to sign a form called a “Private Insurance Patients Form”… and then ending up on a trolley. So your care ends up the same as under the public system, which is paid for out of your taxation. However the hospital gets paid 10 times the amount through your health insurance, which you also pay for. So you end up paying twice for the same basic care. The health insurers end up paying out more, in fact this practice is estimated to cost them approx. €200million per year, which leads to price pressure with their premiums. The hospital wins, but you certainly don’t!

So what should you do? You should simply ask the hospital what difference signing the form will make to your care. Will it guarantee you a private or semi-private room? If yes, then that is great. If not, then you will get exactly the same care as under the public system, but now you are paying for it twice. In that case, there is no benefit for you in signing the form.


GloHealth is now part of Irish Life Health

This had been flagged a few months ago when Irish Life bought Aviva Health and bought out the remaining shareholding in GloHealth. With effect from 22nd February 2017, GloHealth no longer accepted new business or renewed existing plans. Instead from that date forward, all GloHealth policies that come up for renewal are being offered a comparable plan by Irish Life Health. Talk to us to allow us find the best plan for you.

As said at the outset, there’s never a dull moment in the health insurance market in Ireland…