Why you should review your health insurance before renewing
Most of us are looking for the best deal on our auto insurance, but when it comes to health insurance, we’re not that quick to change.
Switching providers or plans isn’t easy, but it’s worth setting aside time each year to review your options.
With nearly a million people due to renew their policies by February, we asked the experts how you can get the best coverage – and the best bang for your buck.
How often should I review my coverage?
The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) is a government agency that is the statutory regulator of the private health insurance market.
Laura O’Brien, CEO of HIA, said she would encourage people to review their policy every year.
“You may find that your medical needs change, you may want to consider additional cardiac or orthopedic coverage, or if your financial situation has changed you may want to shop around to understand all of your options,” a- she declared.
What are the most important things to consider?
From comparing covers to finding the best deal, the HIA has shared some helpful tips for reviewing your coverage.
1 Make sure you have the right level of coverage.
If you have high blood pressure or have a particular heart disease, focus on the benefits offered for cardiac treatment at different hospitals.
Check which hospitals are covered by the policy.
Not all hospitals are covered by all plans and this can change from year to year.
2 Look at the level of excess or shortfall on your policy
Your deductible is the amount you pay per claim or per night of hospitalization in the event of a claim.
Consumers should check their plan for excess.
Having a deductible of € 200 means that you will pay the first € 200 – any charges above this amount will be paid by your insurer.
Typically, plans with higher overpayments are cheaper than those with little or no overpayments.
Note that some plans have a deductible per claim, while others have a deductible per night of hospitalization. Read the fine print carefully.
3 define your budget
The average cost of an adult contract is € 1,470, which generally allows you to benefit from semi-private coverage in a private hospital.
4 Move your children to another font
If you have a family, you might not necessarily be better served with a family plan.
Everyone is priced individually, so you should consider each individual’s needs – your kids might need better GP coverage while you might need better heart coverage.
Parents and children may be on different plans but on the same policy, or may be better served with different insurance providers, so you will have different policy numbers but the renewal date will be the same.
5 make sure your potential savings are worth it
Be careful not to save € 100 on your contract if this causes you to lose access to high-tech hospitals and this is important for you, and watch out for changes in excess or shortfall.
If you go from full orthopedic coverage to a 20% shortfall (as is often the case with many plans), your total out-of-pocket expenses may increase if you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and that you need orthopedic procedures.
It might not be worth the initial savings.
How many vendors are there to choose from?
There are only three providers to choose from – VHI, Laya and Irish Life Health.
However, that doesn’t mean you run out of choice when it comes to plans.
Daragh Cassidy of the price comparison site Bonkers.ie said that there are currently around 330 different health insurance plans.
“That’s 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 that it can be quite difficult for the average person to figure out exactly what is covered by each policy.
“Treatments, consultant coverage, deductible and outpatient benefits can all differ dramatically from plan to plan.
“If you’re not careful it’s very easy to overpay, or worse yet, underpay and not be covered for the treatment you need,” he said.
Mr Cassidy said there are independent health experts who can conduct an in-depth phone consultation with you and recommend a suitable plan.
“Unfortunately, the Irish don’t like paying for financial advice,” he said.
“But for a relatively small amount of, say, $ 100 or $ 150, you could save well over $ 300 or $ 400 a year on your health insurance – and you’ll get a plan tailored to your specific needs.” he added.
Alternatively, you can do the research yourself and use the free comparison tool on the HIA website.
How does the HIA comparison tool work?
The tool is available on the HIA website and can compare all plans available in the market.
You can use the tool to filter the options based on different criteria.
It allows you to set your price range, choose a deductible, and select the type of coverage you want.
Once you’ve set your filters, you’ll receive all of the shots that fall within the range you’ve set.
Are the most expensive policies always better?
According to Laura O’Brien of the HIA, the level of day-to-day benefits and the coverage of private treatment in a public hospital are often comparable between different rate plans.
But she said the biggest difference between the high-priced plans and the more budget-friendly ones is the level of surplus or shortfall a patient has to pay for treatment in private hospitals, especially for procedures. orthopedic or ophthalmic (ophthalmic).
“For example, some of the more expensive plans such as VHI Health Plus Premium (€ 3,860), Laya Company Care Premium No Excess (€ 3,740), Irish Life Health Level 2 Hospital with Day to Day (€ 3,900), offer full coverage for treatment in private or semi-private rooms, with no overage or shortfall, except in limited situations, ”explained Ms. O’Brien.
“Cheaper plans, such as VHI One + Plan (€ 1,259), Laya Simply Health Choice (€ 1,275), Irish Life Health Future Focus 500 (€ 1,272) require the patient to pay a deductible per claim or per night for all treatments in a private hospital, and many require the patient to pay an additional deficit or surplus for specified orthopedic and ophthalmic procedures, ”she added.
Ms O’Brien said the value of the higher priced plans will depend on individual circumstances and the likelihood of needing particular types of inpatient treatment and access to particular hospitals.
“That’s why the HIA always encourages customers to review before renewing.
“We also note that there are schemes where coverages such as maternity benefits are more generous than lower cost schemes,” she added.
Is it more expensive to buy my first policy in your 30s?
A charge will apply to anyone purchasing health insurance for the first time if you are 35 or older.
If you are 34 and under and are purchasing health insurance for the first time, you only pay your premium, O Brien explained.
“From age 35, you pay an additional 2% on the plan you choose, and the charge increases by 2% each year.
“So at 35 it’s 2%, 36 to 4%, 37 to 6% and so on. The increases apply to your premiums for ten years and can reach a maximum of 70%”, a- she declared.
Ms. O’Brien pointed out that if you let your insurance expire for more than 13 weeks, a Community Lifetime Rating (LCR) charge may also apply, but credit will be given for periods of previous coverage.
Why are health insurance premiums increasing?
Health insurers and private hospitals say premium increases are due to medical inflation, driven by the adoption of new technologies and techniques, as well as the use of more expensive consumables and drugs.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also resulted in some increases, resulting in lower throughput due to the impact of social distancing and the increased cost of PPE.
At the same time, there are factors that should limit the rise in premiums, as Ms. O’Brien explained.
“The stamp duty on health insurance contracts is expected to drop from April 2022.
“Treatments that previously required overnight stays are now performed on an outpatient basis, which reduces the cost of treatment.
“It has accelerated over the past 18 months due to Covid and we expect it to continue,” she said.
Ms O’Brien said increasing daytime salaries should help reduce health insurance claims.
Do we need more competition in the market?
With over 300 different health insurance plans available, the HIA said the market would likely benefit from fewer plans rather than more, with less complexity in the plans.
Ms O’Brien said the average premium price for adult packages held by customers in September 2021 was € 1,470.
“For packages priced between € 1,200 and € 1,500 for an adult, Vhi had 33 packages in this price range, Laya had 24 and Irish Life Health had 21.
“The difference in benefits between them can be minimal in many cases and works to confuse rather than help clients try to get the right plan for their situation,” she said.
Rather than always adding new products, Ms O’Brien said the HIA would like to see more competition between insurers when it comes to the quality of services provided and the effectiveness of claims, which she said would lead to at more competitive prices.
“We also ask insurers to be more transparent about the procedures covered in different hospitals and the costs of a particular treatment which are underpaid,” she added.
Am I missing something if I don’t review my policy every year?
Simply put, yes, you might be missing out on something.
With rapidly changing medical treatments and technology, Daragh Cassidy of Bonkers.ie said you don’t want to stay on an old, outdated plan that doesn’t provide adequate coverage for modern medical needs.
“For example, the most up-to-date plans will cover things like the HPV vaccine, online doctors, genetic testing, sports-related injuries, home childbirth, sex reassignment, and psychiatric treatments. and mental health, which the old plans may not, ”he said.
So while it might not be the most exciting job, you should probably schedule some time into the New Year to make sure you and your family are on the best possible basis.