If you're thinking of starting a family, make sure you have the right health insurance cover for your needs.
Planning or welcoming a new addition to the family is always an exciting time but it can also be overwhelming. There’s a lot to think about such as choosing baby names, nurseries & a whole new world of gadgets.
If you’re considering starting a family, it’s also important to think about yourself and your needs. Having a Health Insurance plan with a range of fertility & maternity benefits has become very popular over the last few years.
If you already have a plan or are thinking of taking one out, here’s what you should consider. Do you need it? What cover should you be looking for? If you have it, what does your policy actually cover? Thankfully, nowadays there is an array of options for new mums and dads, so here’s just some of the benefits you could avail of, if needed.
The road to pregnancy isn’t always straightforward. Did you know that approximately 15% of couples in Ireland deal with fertility issues?* If you are affected by, or have concerns about fertility, then each insurer offers a range of benefits to help, which may include:
* Source: Infertility and Its Treatments - A Review of Psycho-social Issues - The Women's Health Council
Maternity cover is a feature on all plans, regardless of gender. However, some plans offer very limited benefits so if maternity cover is of specific interest to you, it is important to have a detailed discussion with your insurer or provider.
When it comes to maternity care in hospitals, there are three main maternity options available in Ireland – public, semi-private and private care (room only).
With regard to private patients, there are no private maternity hospitals so they now have to rely on the public maternity hospitals such as the Coombe or the Rotunda hospitals and while private and semi-private rooms are available, access is not guaranteed.
Having health insurance means that your insurer will pay for your accommodation should you decide to go semi-private or private. Not all plans cover a private room so if this is important to you, make sure it is covered on your plan.
The first three days accommodation are covered under the maternity section of your plan but if you have to stay longer and it is deemed medically necessary e.g. C section, the balance of the stay would be covered under inpatient benefit. The majority of health insurance plans also provide either cash back or a contribution towards your consultant fees and a host of pre and postnatal benefits.
It’s important you know that no health insurance plan provides full cover for the cost of consultant fees. These fees can range from €2,000 to €6,000 depending on whether you choose to go semi private or private. Most policies will provide a contribution of between €350 and €600 towards these fees.
Alternative birth benefits are also offered on many plans. This may include Home Births, which allow you to claim back some of the medical costs directly associated with the delivery of your child at home, usually to a maximum amount of €3,500-€4,000.
The three insurers offer access to a range of claimable benefits for both prenatal and postnatal care, such as discounts or cashback in areas like free GP cover when pregnant, consultant visits, nutritionists, scans etc.
· Please note the above tables are examples only and actual benefits are dependent on your plan and insurer. Some benefits must be carried out by registered practitioners or specific medical partners of the relevant insurer
The decision to purchase health insurance should be a holistic one, based on providing you with choice and control, when managing your overall health. Health Insurance provides access to a wide range of hospitals, consultants and unique benefits to support your health from a physical, mental and lifestyle perspective. We do not believe any decision to buy health insurance is merited on maternity cover alone.
If you opt to go through the public system for maternity, you will not be charged for any care relating to maternity. However, you are not guaranteed to see the same midwife or consultant with each antenatal visit or on the day of labour and you may not receive as many take-home scans, which is one of the loveliest parts of being pregnant for you and your family. It is important to note, if you need hospital care for any other illnesses outside of maternity during this time, you will be charged the normal hospital charges for those illnesses.
Just to note, access to public hospitals is not free. For non-maternity related issues, you will be charged €100 for a public A&E visit and €80 per night for any overnight stay up to a maximum of 10 nights or €800. Quality Health Insurance can be accessed from €950-€1,250 per adult.
If you opt to go with semi private or private cover, you will have more consistency in terms of seeing the same team of midwives or the same consultant at each visit. There are more take home scans, waiting times should be much shorter, semi private accommodation would be between 2-6 beds and for private cover, your consultant is present during birth.
If you feel you would benefit from having cover that gives you access to public, private and high tech hospitals whilst allowing you access to benefits such as Minor Injury Clinics, Online GPs, money back on GPs, Consultant visits, Dental cover, Physio visits and offering many wellness & mental health supports, then buying health insurance, even at a starter level, might be worth considering.
A waiting period* applies to all health insurance plans before you can access any maternity benefits.
*A waiting period is the amount of time that must pass before you will be covered for maternity benefits under your plan. Once you’ve had health insurance for more than one year, with any provider and without a break in cover of more than 13 weeks, you will be fully covered immediately as long as you are not upgrading your cover.