There are four private health insurance providers in Ireland – VHI , Irish Life Health (was Aviva) , Glo Health and Laya Health . Comparing Health Insurance in Ireland can be a complicated task. The health insurance market in Ireland is estimated to be worth over €2 billion in premiums each year. At the end of 2015 it was estimated that 45.8% of the population of Ireland had Private Health Insurance cover.
There seems to be strong loyalty or apathy about switching Health Insurance provider – because the average number of years policyholders have been with their current Health Insurance provider is 14 years. Only 24% of people have ever changed insurance provider. Only 20% of people with health insurance said they regularly shopped around for lower prices and/or better cover.
The average cost of a private health insurance policy in Ireland- according to a 2015 survey by the Health Insurance Authority – was €1925 a year. Over 33% were paying more than €2000 a year . (These could be policies for a whole family) Interestingly – 40% said they had never made a claim on their health insurance policy.
The Health Insurance Authority has a price comparison facility for Private Health Insurance in Ireland.
An initial search on the HIA comparison site (Jan 2017) – for cover providing a private room in a private hospital showed up 80 different health insurance price plans available for a single adult.
Prices rangde from from the cheapest at €784 per adult per year to the most expensive at €4355 per adult per year. The amount of different plans and variations in levels of cover provided is mind boggling – it must be easy for people to get confused by all the options available.
The lowest priced plan shown was €784 for the “Control 600 Connect” from Laya Insurance. This Laya policy has a €600 excess on each inpatient claim . Outpatient consultant visits get €40 each and GP visits €15 each
At the other end of the scale is the €4355 a year “Healthcare Manager “from Laya. This policy has a €125 excess . Outpatient consultant visits and GP visits get 50% each. Both policies cover the Blackrock Clinic, the Mater Private and the Beacon Hospital.
There are several other minor differences – with the policies , with teh cheaper option providing better cover in certain areas. The €600 excess is the main difference. But with an annual premium price difference of over €3500 – it looks like the cheaper policy is probably better value – even if you have to claim on it 5 times in one year.
The most expensive policy we could find was the Laya Health Manager Gold – providing cover with no excess for private roms in high tech hospitals. Cost €7964 a year.
Cheapest Price : A single adult won’t get cover for less than €454.65 – this is the price charged by Glo Health for their Base Lite Plan. For this you get inpatient cover as a private Patient in a multi-occupancy (which may include semi-private) room in a public hospital and day case.
The HIA comparison tool shows just how complicated the health insurance market is in Ireland. There is a massive amount of different types of cover available – no two insurance plans are exactly the same – so making an accurate price comparison is difficult. There may be just slight differences between some plans – and unless you know what health problems you are going to get you don’t really know which one is going to best for you. The HIA comparison make it easier than trawling through the providers prices – but it is still not a simple task.
Health insurance in Ireland must be an insurance brokers dream – they can overwhelm clients with the details and make them so confused that they will probably accept whatever the broker says is the best policy.
It is probably a safe bet that most people in Ireland don’t have a clue exactly what their health insurance covers them for.
One option – the cheapest one – is not to buy private health insurance at all. Some people seem to think they will be bankrupt if they ever need hospital treatment without medical insurance – but the most it can cost you is €750 in a year.
If you are admitted to hospital for any reason – without health insurance or a medical card – the charge for in-patient/day services is €75 per day up to a maximum of €750 in any 12 consecutive months. All the treatment you recieve in hospital, all procedures,scans,surgery etc and all follow up out-patient treatment is free of any further charge.
Long Stay patients are charged less: (Long stay = over 30 days)
a) Those receiving in-patient services where nursing care is provided on a 24 hour basis the maximum weekly charge will be €153.25, or their weekly income less €44.70, whichever is the lesser.
b) those receiving in-patient services where nursing care is not provided on a 24 hour basis – the maximum weekly charge will be the lesser of €114.95, or the person’s weekly income less €70.25, or 60% of the persons weekly income
Without health insurance , in some cases you may well have to wait a good bit longer to be treated in the first place .
Some interesting figures on health insurance in Ireland
In Dec 2015 there was 49 per cent of the total population coverd by private health insurance.
In comparison – in the UK , figures from the Association of British Insurers at the end of 2015, show that there were around 4 million private medical cover policies – this is just 10% of the UK population.
If the large amount of money (about €2 billion a year) taken in by insurance companies in Ireland was instead taken in direct taxation and put into our hospital system – then people might not feel the need to get private health insurance.