The health insurance market has changed dramatically in Ireland over the last 2 decades. Do you remember the days when there was only one company (VHI) and plans A,B,C,D & E on offer? Life was simple indeed…but choice was very limited.
While the price of health insurance has risen quite a bit in the last year or two, the products have also become more attractive in terms of features, which has been good for consumers. Another issue today is that the health insurance market is now very complex, with 4 providers and about 250 plans on offer. It’s a minefield for people trying to identify the right plan for their particular circumstances.
This article sets out a few ideas for you to consider before you next review your health insurance. Following these steps will help you ensure you get the right plan for you, at the most competitive cost.
What Cover is Important?
To start with, it’s important to decide what type of hospital accommodation you will want if you get sick. Private health insurance provides cover for private and semi-private accommodation in hospital. The plan chosen will also determine whether this covers private hospitals as well as public hospitals and indeed which hospitals are actually included. The cost will vary (quite significantly) based on the type of hospital accommodation required.
What benefits are important?
Depending on your own and your family’s circumstances, different benefits will be more important to you than others. For example, are you planning on having children? If so, the maternity benefits will be particularly important to you. These can vary significantly from plan to plan, so it is important that you have the right plan to meet your needs. Indeed in some circumstances it may make sense to have your children on a separate plan as there sometimes can be substantial savings in doing so.
Other benefits that might be more important to you could include the cover available for GP costs, physiotherapy or overseas benefits among others. It is important to find the right plan to meet your own particular needs.
Be aware, all plans are available to you!
This is an important feature of the Irish Health Insurance market, of which many subscribers are unaware. The Health Insurers design plans to help them attract their preferred customer groups – often these include large companies where cover will be extended to large groups of employees. These plans are often not widely advertised but importantly, they are equally available to you! There are often better benefits, additional features and lower costs associated with these plans so it is really important to try to find out which is the very best plan that the insurer can offer you. This is not necessarily their most popular plan!
This is a minefield – help!!
Well yes, unfortunately it is. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the health insurance market in Ireland is now a very complex place. It is very difficult for consumers to find the right plan to suit their particular needs.
However help is at hand. There are a number of independent health insurance advisers (of which Lyons Financial Services is a leading firm!) out there who can help you to identify the right plan for you. They can also, depending on the insurer, then also go ahead and set the plan up for you. And the good news is that this doesn’t cost you any more than if you went to the insurer directly yourself! By talking to one of these advisers, you can get help to cut through the complexity and find the right plan for you, taking into account the cover required, the benefits needed and your budget. They also will be aware of the lesser-known plans that might just be the right fit for you.
So before you renew your health insurance or indeed take out cover for the first time, it probably makes sense to get an expert in your corner who can find the right solution for you.
At Lyons Financial Services, we would be delighted to answer any questions that you have in relation to your existing plan or indeed the health insurance market in general. Please feel free to give us a call or indeed please leave your query or comment below.