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Finance - Money Matters - Understanding health insurance

Ivan Ahern discusses the critical factors to consider when shopping for health insurance

Winter is a busy time for health insurance renewals and the four providers have responded to this by introducing a number of attractive new plans and special offers.

In the past 12 months, over 100 new plans have been introduced to the market. While many of these offer substantial savings and value for customers, the sheer number of plans available now has exacerbated the confusion experienced by clients when it comes to researching the best possible plan at renewal.

Here are some of the things you should consider when next viewing your health insurance needs.

Change in tax relief on insurance premiums
Customers who renewed their health insurance before October 16, 2014 will have noticed a sharp increase in the cost of their plan due to the changes in tax relief which came into effect on October 16, 2013. Previously, health insurance customers could benefit from 20% tax relief on their entire premium. Once the change came into effect, tax relief was capped at 20% of gross premium up to €1,000. For certain plans – eg. Aviva Health Plan 09, this increased the adult premium by over €400 overnight.

What should I ask when shopping around?
As always, it’s crucial to shop around for your health insurance. Customers can save money on their health insurance by availing of one of the many half-price children or student offers available. Student rates are available for those who are in full time education and between the ages of 18 and 20. VHI Healthcare also offers a student rate up to and including 21-year-olds on a limited number of plans. The student rate is not automatically given to your children, so if you have a dependant on your plan who is still in full time education and who has recently turned 18, you will need to check that the student rate has been applied.

How to save money on health insurance
Due to the variety of special offers available on the market, it often makes financial sense to split the family’s cover between two providers in order to avail of the best possible price. Older adults can prioritise their own cover while choosing a more basic level of cover for young adult dependants.

There are a number of competitively priced plans on the market that cover a network of public and private hospitals only. However, if you are satisfied with the network of hospitals covered, these plans may offer you a reasonable level of cover at a more affordable price.

Waiting periods
While all four providers will honour the waiting periods you have served with your previous provider, you may have to serve a waiting period if you upgrade your cover. Furthermore, if you downgrade your plan to save money this year and then upgrade it the following year, you may have to serve waiting periods if you develop an illness or condition in the meantime.

It’s always best to seek advice from a qualified advisor who can explain if and how these waiting periods will affect you, and this is the time when Cornmarket’s trained health insurance advisors can help you make sense of the many options available and find the best possible solution to suit your requirements and your budget. Avail of Cornmarket’s free health insurance comparison service by calling us at Tel: 01 408 6212.

Ivan Ahern is a director of Cornmarket Financial Services Ltd Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd

is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. A member of the Irish Life Group Ltd. Telephone calls may be recorded for quality control and training purposes

Finance - Money Matters - Understanding health insurance
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