Given the recent hikes in health insurance, many Irish consumers have been forced to review their insurance plans and providers, or whether they utilise private health insurance at all. According to HSF Health Plan’s Roy Smith, National Sales Manager, Ireland & Scotland, a health cash plan is a more affordable option for those who can’t afford private health insurance but don’t want to go without cover.
Health cash plans are a little different to health insurance, in that they cover everyday health expenses such as GP, consultant and dental visits, rather than allowing you to skip the queue and grab a private room in the hospital. As a result, the premiums are significantly lower.
Typically there’s an annual limit on these plans – you pay the bill first, and then claim back the cost later. Different plans offer varying levels of cash back, with some offering cash back for nights spent in hospital, or money back on prescriptions. Generally, the more you spend on your plan, the more you’ll get back.
Writing in the Irish Independent last year, Dermot Goode of Totalhealthcover.ie covers the topic in great detail, noting that they are worth considering if you can’t afford private healthcare, though he also counselled combining a cash plan with a decent, mid level health insurance plan.
Health cash plans are available from providers such as Laya Healthcare and GloHealth, as well as specialised provider HSF Health Plan. The latter seems to be the cheapest option on the market at present, with premiums starting from €10.25 each month. A single policy covers the holder, spouse/partner, as well as children up to 21 years old, with no excess.
One of their most popular plans is the Scheme FA, which costs €56.50 per family per month. That includes access to a qualified GP 24/7 telephone advice line, 100% money back on dental and optical visits (max. €500 per year), consultant fees, health screenings, scans up to €1,100 per year, €80 per night for up to 40 nights in hospital, and €80 per day for day case surgery and treatment up to eight times in a year.
The €10.25 per month Scheme FD1 plan is a little less comprehensive, with refunds capped at lower prices, such as €80 per year for dental and optical visits, and €20 per night for up to 40 nights in hospital.
Smith also notes that rising premiums are also prompting employers to review employees’ health insurance options, particularly SMEs. “In recent years there has been an increasing number of employers contacting us because they cannot afford to offer private health insurance, but who need appealing benefits to attract and keep good staff,” he explains.