Over-60s particularly at risk of being hit with needless expenses, new report reveals...
At least two in every five people with private health insurance in Ireland are on dated and massively overpriced and dated plans, according to a new report.
Totalhealthcover.ie's analysis found that the vast majority of people paying over the odds are those over 60 years of age.
Misguided loyalty to companies and a fear of change were the chief reasons cited for older people missing out on better deals.
Older people often overpay by up to €1,000 – some 30% to 50% more than any other age group.
They are also less likely to be aware of better-value plans, opting instead to stay on plans that have been on the market for up to 25 years.
There are over 2.1 million people with private insurance in Ireland.
The younger to middle-age slice of those were found to be more savvy when it comes to shopping around, with a direct correlation between young-age and propensity to change for greater value. This group tends to be paying between €900 - €1,500 per adult.
Many younger people were found to still be opting for entry-level plans simply to beat the age loadings, whilst understanding that these are not quality health insurance plans.
Premiums rose by 10-20% last year depending on the plan held, while 2017 has already seen people bearing the brunt of a further raft of levy increases and price hikes again across all insurers.
Insurance expert Dermot Goode said of the new report:
"It's a real issue now that so many older members, particularly long-term loyal policyholders, continue to pay more than they should for health insurance.
"When it comes to health insurance, people should review their plan every year just as they would home or car insurance. But they don't. And this can be a costly mistake."
Turning to the older segment of the market, Goode continued:
“The figures demonstrate the fact that, for the most part, Ireland’s pensioners are effectively paying double for health insurance.
"Older people are more comfortable remaining with the same provider [or] plan because it’s a case of 'better the devil you know'. Many are overly cautious about switching...
"Older members are often afraid to switch as they are under the misconception that they will have to re-serve all their waiting periods again, or that existing conditions will not be covered, which is simply not the case.
"All insurers are required by law to give you full credit for time served with previous providers.
"Once there is no break in your cover and you change to an equivalent plan, you will be on cover immediately with the new provider assuming you’ve served all your waiting periods already.
"In fact, the only questions your new insurer will put to you are; what plan are you currently insured on and how long have you been insured on that plan.
"You won’t be asked to complete any medical questionnaire or for any details regarding pending medical treatment."