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. There are 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.
Is Health Insurance More Expensive after 35 ?
(Or will it be cheaper to wait?)
We have done some calculations to compare 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) . This works out at a lifetime cost of €46920. (over 46 years) This works out at €80 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) . But – because he has not paid any premiums for the previous 6 years the total lifetime spend will be €45,920 which is €1080 less than if he took out the policy before this “deadline”.
- Waiting until age 45 will mean the annual policy will be 20% more – €1220 and he will spend €43920 up until age 81. (Which is €3080 LESS than taking out insurance at 35).
Hopefully – you get the picture….. rushing to get health insurance will not save you any money 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.
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 takeup of private medical insurance .
There will soon be no charge for overnight and day in-patient services in public hospitals. This €80 is being abolished from April 2023. Once you are admitted to 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/or in a private room.
More Here About Health Insurance Prices in Ireland
Interesting article, thanks! But, I would aregue that your numbera are a bit flawed. In your example, why doesn’t the person take out cheap health insurance now (e.h. GloHeath at €394) and upgrade it in a few years, avoiding the penalty. In that case, it IS cheaper to take out insurance now, rather than wait. A low-cost policy won’t give the same cover as one for €1,000, but if you’re only taking it out to avoid the levy, then it is better than nothing 🙂