Sometimes it pays to be promiscuous, never more so than with your health insurance. In fact, if you’ve had the same cover for three years, it’s time to be unfaithful.
Research by the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) finds that just 17 per cent of us are bothered about switching. When it comes to one of our biggest annual expenses, policyholders say “general loyalty” and “perceived value for money” are the reasons why.
“There is this misguided loyalty where people mistakenly believe they are getting something extra by virtue of their length of service,” says Dermot Goode of totalhealthcover.ie. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Leaving a long-term love, especially when there is an “in sickness” clause, can seen like a risk. But don’t be cowed. It turns out disloyalty, either to your current plan or your provider, could save you hundreds of euro and may get you better cover too.
“If you are on the oldest plans like VHI Plan B Options [now called HealthPlus Extra] or the old Plan C [now HealthPlus Choice], people think ‘Well, I must have great cover because I’m paying €2,500’, says Goode. “You are only paying €2,500 because that plan is on the market 30 years, not because it is a Rolls Royce plan, far from it.”
He also questions the value for money in the old Essential Plus plans with Laya, and the Irish Life Level 2 Hospital cover, which now costs over €3,000. He says those willing to explore alternatives can expect savings of €500 to €1,000, without meaningful loss of cover.
If you need a stent, a heart bypass or a hip replacement, once you’ve satisfied the waiting periods with your previous insurer, a new provider can’t turn you down. And you don’t have to keep schtum about what ails you. Unlike car or home insurance for example, your past can’t count against you.
“You will never hear ‘Because you told us you have that condition, we won’t take you on’,” says Goode. “The law is very clear. They must take you on regardless of what pre-existing conditions you have. If you cost your previous insurance company €100,000 last year and it will cost the same this year, they must take you on.”
Those on “nurses” plans and “teachers” plans who think they’ve got a sweet deal should also think again, warns Goode. “They are on good plans, but those plans are on the market more than three years – are they the best-value corporate plans? Not even close.”