Comparing Health Insurance in Ireland

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 2021 it was estimated that 47% of the population of Ireland had Private Health Insurance cover. (Over 2.4 million people)

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

There seems to be strong loyalty or maybe just apathy about switching Health Insurance providers.
Figures from 2019 showed that the average number of years policyholders had been with their current Health Insurance provider was 14 years.
Only 22% of people had 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 an adult private health insurance policy in Ireland in 2021 – was  €1470 a year.  ( Health Insurance Authority)

In a survey in 2017 – 38% of people with health insurance 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  (January 2022) –  for cover providing a private room in a private hospital showed up 79 different health insurance price plans available for a single adult.

Prices ranged from the cheapest at €1055 per adult per year to the most expensive at €5178 per adult per year.

The lowest-priced plan shown was €1055 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 €5178 a year “Health Manager “from Laya.  This policy has a €125or €50 depending on the hospital used .   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 €4000 – 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   €9037 a 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.

Cheapest Health Insurance in Ireland

It looks like a single adult won’t get health cover for less than €504  – this was the price given in Jan 2022 by VHI for their Public Plus Care 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 be best for you. The HIA comparison makes it easier than trawling through the provider’s 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 a hospital in Ireland for any reason – without health insurance or a medical card – the charge for in-patient/day services is €80 per day up to a maximum of €800 in any 12 consecutive months.
Under 16’s are free.

All the treatment you receive in the hospital, all procedures, scans, surgery etc and all follow up outpatient 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 €179 or their weekly income less €44, 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 €134 or the person’s weekly income less €75, 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 Government’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 2021  47 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.
However – delays in NHS treatment due to Covid might mean more UK residents will be looking for medical insurance. According to new 2021 research, nearly 60% of Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) members expect to see an increase in demand for individual private healthcare in the UK in 2022.

Maybe – if the large amount of money (about €2 billion a year)  taken in by insurance companies in Ireland was instead taken in taxation and put into the hospital system – then people might not feel the need to get private health insurance.

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