Reasons you should Review Your health insurance before you Renewing

Most of us shop around for the best deal on our car insurance, but when it comes to health insurance we’re not so quick to switch.

Changing provider or plan isn’t an easy job, but it is well worth setting aside some time each year to review your options.

With almost one million people due to renew their policies between now and February, we’ve asked the experts how you can get the best cover – and value for money.

How often should I review my cover?

The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) is a government body that is the statutory regulator of the private health insurance market.

Laura O’Brien, CEO of the HIA, said she would encourage people to review their policy every year.

“You may find that your medical needs are changing, maybe you want to consider extra cardiac or orthopaedic cover, or if your financial circumstances have changed, you might want to shop around to understand all your options,” she said.

What are the most important things to consider?

From comparing cover, to finding the best deal, the HIA has shared some top tips when it comes to reviewing your cover.

1. Make sure you have the correct level of cover.

If you’re someone who has high blood pressure or if you have a particular cardiac condition, focus on what benefits are provided for cardiac treatment in the different hospitals. Check what hospitals are covered on the policy. Not all hospitals are covered on all plans and this can change year to year.

2. Look at the level of excess or shortfall on your policy

Your excess is the amount that you pay per claim or per night in hospital if you make a claim.Consumers should look to see if their plan has an excess. Having an excess of €200 means you’ll pay the first €200 – any charge above that amount your insurer will pay. Generally, plans with higher excess payments are cheaper than those with no or low excess payments. Be aware that some plans have an excess per claim, while others have an excess per night in hospital. Read the fine print carefully.

3. Set your budget

The average cost of an adult policy is €1,470, which will generally give you semi-private cover in a private hospital.

4. Move your children to a different policy

If you have a family, you may not necessarily be best served with a family plan. Everyone is priced individually so you should look at everybody’s needs – your children might need better GP cover while you may need better cardiac cover. Parents and children can be on different plans but on the same policy, or might be better served with different insurance providers, so you’ll have different policy numbers but the renewal date will be the same.

5. Make sure your potential saving is worth it

Be wary of saving €100 on your policy if it means you lose access to the high-tech hospitals and this is important to you, and watch out for changes to excesses or shortfalls. If you go from full orthopaedic cover to a 20% shortfall (as is common on many plans), then your total out of pocket costs may go up if you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, and you need some orthopaedic procedures. It might not be worth the initial saving.

How many providers are there to choose from?

There are just three providers to choose from – VHI, Laya and Irish Life Health.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re short of choice when it comes to plans.

Daragh Cassidy from price comparison website Bonkers.ie said there are around 330 different health insurance plans being sold right now.

“That is a huge number – and can make choosing the right plan extremely difficult,” he said.

Health insurance is a very complex product, and Mr Cassidy said the right plan for a specific individual will depend on many different factors.

He also said it can be quite difficult for the average person to understand exactly what’s covered with every policy.

“Treatments, consultant cover, the excess, and outpatient benefits can all differ wildly between plans.

“If you’re not careful it’s very easy to over pay, or equally as worse, under pay and not be covered for the treatment you need,” he said.

Health insurance is a very complex product, and Mr Cassidy said the right plan for a specific individual will depend on many different factors.

He also said it can be quite difficult for the average person to understand exactly what’s covered with every policy.

“Treatments, consultant cover, the excess, and outpatient benefits can all differ wildly between plans.

“If you’re not careful it’s very easy to over pay, or equally as worse, under pay and not be covered for the treatment you need,” he said.