Blog Homepage > What to Consider when Taking Out Health Insurance for the First Time?
Private health insurance is something traditionally a lot of people put off until they are older. However, with the introduction of Lifetime Community Rating in May of 2015, anyone aged 35 and older taking out health insurance for the first time will now be penalised. As a result, more young people are considering the benefits and costs of a private health insurance plan. In fact, 80,000 people took out cover as a result of these changes. To help clear up some of the confusing aspects of the insurance market, we asked our in-house health insurance expert what you should look out for when taking out your first private health insurance plan.
What are the main benefits of private health insurance?
The main reason people take out health insurance is to gain speedier access to treatment. At present, it is extremely difficult to rely on the public system, with long waiting lists for both diagnosis and treatment stages. Private health insurance provides peace of mind, with 74% of participants in a recent survey stating this as their primary reason for taking out cover. Choice and access are other reasons people will take out cover. It is far more timely and convenient to be treated through the private system at present.
Will I be ok with a basic level of cover?
One misconception is that treatment in public hospitals is free. If you are admitted to hospital and don’t have health insurance or a medical card, you may be liable to pay €75 per night for up to 10 nights, €750. At a time when you are ill, it’s not something you want to have to worry about.
Basic cover will cost somewhere between €400 and €550. This will usually include access to selected public hospitals only. To have access to a range of public and private hospitals, you would need to spend around €800. For the better level 2 plans, which provide access to public, private and selected high tech hospitals, you would need to spend around €1100.
The key question for people shopping around, especially if they’re getting health insurance for the first time, is what hospitals do they want to be covered in? If you want choice and the widest access, then you will need to spend a bit more. If you are aged between 18-25, some plans will offer a young adult discount. You should ask your health insurance advisor about this.
How often should you review your policy?
You should definitely review your policy on a yearly basis. There are over three hundred and sixty plans on the market at this stage. It is quite common that the plan you signed up for 12 months ago may not necessarily be the best plan for you now. This is most likely down to price increases and the fact that there are new plans being introduced every month or two by all four providers. Even with the plan that you signed up for, the benefits on that plan may change throughout the year. The insurers send out renewal packs thirty days in advance of your renewal date, so the best thing to do at that point is to shop around or to contact your broker and they can do the shopping around for you.
How quickly can I claim?
If someone’s taking out health insurance for the very first time, there is a waiting period that you need to serve in respect of new conditions; which is usually 26 weeks. Some insurers may waive this on request. Existing illness will entail a waiting period and you should seek advice as to how this could affect you.
What are my options if I want to change my policy?
Reviewing or changing your plan has become an annual event. Most contracts are for 12 months with cancellation fees deterring customers from moving insurer during the year. When you sign up for a plan, you do have a 14 day cooling off period during which you can change your mind.
Where can I find the best value?
The best value option will vary throughout the year depending on what offers insurers have in place, such as, free or half price kids’ offers, new consumer and corporate plans etc. In general, for a good level 2 plan which offers public, private and high tech hospital cover, corporate plans offer the best value. These are plans generally developed to win large company business but they must be made available to everyone. You should always ask insurers for the ‘Corporate Plan equivalent’ or ask the question ‘Is that the best plan you have to meet my needs’. Alternatively, the Health Insurance Authority has a very good website (www.hia.ie). It can be complicated finding the right plan if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but they have a latest news section in there with updates on what’s happening in the market, which is a good way to keep abreast of the changes.
Our Health Insurance Tip… Don’t renew it until we review it!
Cornmarket has a dedicated team which is available to review your health insurance policy and see if we can save you money. For a Free Health Insurance Comparison, click here or call us on (01) 420 0999.