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Affordable Health Insurance: What Are My Options?

Written by Contributor, on 7th Jun 2024. Posted in General

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As an ordinary Irish resident, you already have access to public health services without the need for private health insurance, because public health services are generally free or at a reduced cost. The following text will explain and explore public versus private healthcare in Ireland, and possible cover and pricings. 

I have a medical card

Perfect. With this, you do not have to pay for your GP appointments. Other free services include in-patient public services and out-patient services. It can also cover ear and eye tests as well as dental checks, however you must be eligible for these.

The HSE (Health Service Executive in Ireland) can check your eligibility and if you find you do not meet the criteria, you will automatically be assessed for a GP visit card. Simply put, this will entitle you to free visits to the GP but not the other benefits that come with having a medical card.

Cash plan

For a lower budget option, this can work for yourself and/or your family. You pay for a plan that meets your everyday healthcare needs. You can then claim cash back for these treatments when needed. This can range from dental treatments, visits to the opticians, GP appointments, physiotherapy and more. Some of the schemes available will also cover for complementary treatments such as osteopathy.  This day-to-day cover can be available in the following three formats:

•  Individuals

•  Family

• Corporate

No medical examination is necessary – simply fill in the health declaration form when applying on the HSF Health Plan (Irish) website.

What can I expect to pay?

In Ireland, there are four private health insurance providers to choose from: Irish Life Health, VHI Healthcare, Laya Healthcare and the final option of HSF Health Plan which offer the cheaper alternative of cash plans.

Currently, HSF offer the One Scheme Direct which enables you to claim money back on your healthcare events; this could be for GP visits, medical tests, Osteopathy etc. A full breakdown is available on their website. Scheme OSD1 is the cheapest at €17.23. Meanwhile, at the highest end their OSD4 plan is priced at €68.92 a month.

Currently, the lowest priced health insurance plan on the market is from Irish Life Health. Their ‘First Cover’ is available at €41.92 per month. A few of the perks of this include: Private & semi-private room in a public hospital, up to €100 back on visits to a range of minor injury clinics and up to six counselling sessions done via a phone or face to face. However, this plan will only provide cover for public hospitals. A more expensive Standard Plan can provide cover for both private and public.

As a general rule, you can expect to pay between €500 – €650 a year for an entry level plan according to Insurance broker Cornmarket. Basic public and private cover with high excess plans will be around $700 - €1,000 per year whilst a private room in private hospital plans will cost between €1,500 - €1,800 per year.

With entry level plans, you will not get money back on GP visits and other day-to-day expenses.

With just four companies to choose from in Ireland, it is worth comparing plans to ensure you get the most appropriate cover in your health insurance. There are noticeable drawbacks to cash plans such as not being able to claim back for in-patient costs. Meanwhile, in the case of private hospital cover you can expect to be paying significantly more.

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