Comparing Health Insurance in Ireland

There are just three private  health insurance providers in Ireland – VHI , Irish Life Health  and Laya Health

Comparing Health Insurance prices 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 2019 it was estimated that 45% of the population of Ireland had Private Health Insurance cover.

There seems to be strong loyalty or maybe just apathy about switching Health Insurance provider.

The average number of years policy holders have been with their current Health Insurance  provider is 14 years.
Only 22% 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 2017 survey by the Health Insurance Authority – was  €1858 a year.  Over 35% were paying more than €2000 a year .  (These could be policies for a whole family).

Interestingly – 38% said they had never made a claim on their health insurance policy.

The Health Insurance Authority  (HIA) has a price comparison  facility for Private Health Insurance in Ireland.

A  search on the  HIA comparison site  (Oct 2019) –  for cover providing a private room in a private hospital showed up dozens of different health insurance price plans available for a single adult.

Prices ranged from from the cheapest at €910 per adult per year to the most expensive at €4866 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 €910 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 €20 each, A&E €20

At the other end of the scale is the €4866 a year “Health Manager “from Laya.  This policy has a €125 excess .   Outpatient consultant visits  and GP visits get 50% to 75% each. A&E max €50

Both policies cover cardiac procedures at the Blackrock Clinic, the Mater Private and the Beacon Hospital.

There are several other minor differences – with the policies , with the cheaper option providing better cover in certain areas.  The €600 excess is the main difference. But with an annual premium price difference of  over €3700 – it seems to us that the cheaper policy is probably better value – even if you have to claim on it 5 times in one year.

The most expensive health insurance policy we could find for a single adult was the Laya Health Manager Gold – providing cover with no excess for private rooms in high tech hospitals. Costing   €8501 a year.

Cheapest Health Insurance

It looks like a single adult won’t get health cover for less than €512  – this was the price given in late 2019 by Laya for their Assure Protect 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 very 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.

Why Bother with Health Insurance ?

One optionthe 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 ever cost you is €750 in a year.

If you are admitted to hospital in Ireland 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 .

The Future :

The Governmant’s Sláintecare vision for the next 10 years is to “achieve a universal single-tier health and social care system where everyone has equal access to services based on need, and not ability to pay.” .

When (if) this is eventually put in place it will hopefully remove  private care from public hospitals, leading to an expansion of the public system’s ability to provide public care.  Private insurance will no longer mean faster access to healthcare in the public sector,  it will be limited to covering private care in private hospitals.

See More  interesting figures on health insurance in Ireland

In late  2019  45 per cent of the total  population of Ireland were  covered by private health insurance.
In comparison – in the  UK , figures from the  Association of British Insurers at the end of 2015, showed that there were around 4 million  private medical cover policies – this is just 10% of the UK population.

Maybe – 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.