Opening Bell: Older people overpaying for health cover, Version 1 expands, ECB transparency

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Over 40% of people with private health insurance in Ireland are on dated and massively overpriced plans, according to Totalhealthcover.ie.

Its 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 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.

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."
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Version 1 is set to double its workforce in Belfast.

The Irish Times reports that the tech consultancy firm, which was established in Dublin in 1996, is expanding its office space at its Northern Ireland headquarters in Cromac Place and expects to move into an adjoining office by the end of the year.

Version 1 opened in Belfast five years ago with just four staff; it currently employs over 60 there.

Overall, it has more than 900 staff in offices in Beflast, Dublin, Cork, Manchester, Edinburgh, Kent and Birmingham. The company expects record turnover of roughly £93 million (€106m) this year. 
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Irish construction activity rose at a sharp pace in May, according to the latest Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) report from Ulster Bank.

The seasonally adjusted index, designed to track changes in total construction activity, rose to 63.6 in May – up from 61.3 in April.

The reading signalled a significant monthly increase in construction activity, and the fastest since February 2016.

Activity has now risen in each of the past 45 months, according to the Construction Purchasing Managers' Index.

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Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes believes the European Central Bank (ECB) should create a central database of all its corporate bond purchases to improve transparency.

The MEP argued that it would allays fears that its Corporate Sector Purchase Programme (CSPP) favours specific companies.

The CSPP was designed to bring inflation back to 2% and give businesses better access to credit.

Six European Union central banks have made co-ordinated bond purchases of €89 billion under the scheme thus far, with CRH and Ryanair being two Irish companies that have participated.

According to the Irish Independent, Hayes said:

"The level of transparency for this programme is very low.

"President Draghi says that it is up to national central banks to publish the information about the bond purchases.

"Unfortunately, many national central banks do not provide enough information on the bond purchases."