Health Insurance Before 35 : Some Figures

Back in 2014 and 2015 – there seemed to be a widespread attempt by the insurance companies and the government, assisted by the media – to scare people into getting health insurance before May 1st 2015.
That date is when a  system of  ” lifetime community rating”  began to apply to new health insurance policies taken out in Ireland. There were a few exceptions – but in the main, it means that if you took out health insurance after this date and you are 35 years of age or older, your annual premium will increase depending on the age you are when you start – by 2% for each year over 34.

This age-related extra loading only lasts for 10 years . After 10 years , you will be charged the same as a 34 year old again.

Is Health Insurance More Expensive after 35 ?
(Or will it be cheaper to wait?)

We have done some calculations comparing the total lifetime cost of health insurance for people delaying starting health insurance after 35. 

We based the calculations on an annual policy costing €1000 a year at current prices and we worked out the total lifetime cost of health insurance (based on an average lifespan in Ireland of 81).

(We have ignored inflation in the calculations and have assumed it will affect new and ongoing  prices in the same way)

  • Someone aged 34 who rushes to get a policy before the “deadline” of age 35 – will pay €1000 a year – or €47000 over their expected lifetime. (another 47 years).

  • If the same person waits until next year when he is 35 – he will pay 2% extra (€1020 a year) for 10 years then €1000 a year for 36 years .  This works out at a lifetime cost of €46200. (over 46 years)  This works out at €800 less than taking out insurance a year earlier!

  • Delaying starting the health insurance until he is 40 will result in an annual premium of €1120 (a 12% increase) for the first 10 years . But – because he has not paid any premiums for the previous 6 years the total lifetime spend will be €42,200 which is €4800 less than if he took out the policy before this “deadline”.

  • Waiting until age 45 will mean the annual policy will be 20% more for the first 10 years (€1220) followed by 26 years at €1000 a year. He will spend €38200 up until age 81. (Which is €8800 LESS than taking out insurance at 35).

Hopefully – you get the picture….. rushing to get health insurance will NOT save you any money on premiums in the long term if you are 35 or under.

Waiting Periods for Insurance Cover 

There are waiting periods to be served for everyone taking out health insurance before a claim can be made This is typically a 26-week initial waiting period for new conditions and 5 years for a pre-existing condition that commenced before a person buys private health insurance.
This waiting period typically applies to in-patient treatment. It usually won’t apply to things like broken bones, accidents, xrays , scans etc. (Check first)

On top of all this –  there is always the question of whether health insurance is really worth it ?
Would you not just be better off keeping your money (Possibly €47000 or more ) and going with the public health system and maybe paying for the odd scan or private consultation out of your savings if you need to check something in a hurry?

The whole idea of health insurance in Ireland is controversial.  In a country where everyone is entitled to access in-patient and out-patient services in publicly funded hospitals –  there is still a very high take up of private medical insurance .

There is no longer a charge for overnight and day in-patient services in public hospitals. This €80 fee was abolished in April 2023. Once you are admitted to the hospital – all treatments, scans, operations, procedures etc are provided free.

A&E visits are free if you are referred by a GP or if you have a medical card. Otherwise, a €100 fee is charged.
Most health insurance policies won’t cover A&E charges – or if they do it may only be €20.
Plus – you won’t get seen any quicker in A&E if you have health insurance.

The main benefit of health insurance seems to be the ability to get faster treatment and the possibility of getting a private room (if there is one available!).

(And of course – to help the insurance companies make a profit !)

More Here About Health Insurance Prices in Ireland