All you need to know about health insurance in Ireland

INTRODUCTION

Health insurance, which is also referred to as medical insurance is a unique type of insurance plan that helps cover an individual's hospital or medical expenses when he or she is sick or has been involved in an accident. The 'Lifetime Community Rating' is a unique strategy introduced in Ireland to motivate citizens to invest in medical insurance at an early age due to the huge benefits associated with it. In this strategy, people are required to enter the health insurance market early before the age of 35 in order to avoid having to pay an extra premium that is commonly referred to as loading.


Types of medical insurance

There are basically two major types of private insurance cover plans offered in Ireland and they include:

a) Outpatient or primary cover

A primary or outpatient cover is a form of medical insurance that covers any treatment an individual receives from a specific health service provider, although he or she is not admitted to staying in the hospital after treatment or diagnosis. The insurance cover often includes all treatment carried out in a hospital's emergency or accident room, in a medical consultant's room or from a general practitioner. Physiotherapy or special therapy services are also covered.

b) In-patient hospital cover

An in-patient hospital cover is one that pays for any services a patient receives when administered in a hospital. This plan covers for both day and night treatment. Depending on the type of medical insurance an in-patient hospital cover can pay for all or part of the doctor's treatment costs among other costs associated with tests, surgery and hospital accommodation.


Additional forms of health-related insurance

All types of basic private health insurance plans only manage to specifically cover the actual accrued medical costs but do not provide any cash sum or income when one is ill. However, there are other available policies, which may occasionally pay out an agreed cash sum of regular income when one becomes incapacitated or ill due to various reasons.

 

What Is Serious illness insurance?

The serious illness insurance policy manages to pay the insured a tax- free lump sum if he or she happens to be diagnosed with one of the specific disabilities or illnesses that are covered in their policy. The policy is often sold as an extra benefit on a mortgage protection or life insurance policy but can also be sold in other circumstances as a stand-alone insurance policy.

 

What Is Income protection insurance

The income protection insurance policy which is also known as 'Permanent Health Insurance (PHI)' is a unique policy that offers the insured a regular cash payment that is meant to replace their lost income. This becomes necessary when the individual in question can't afford to work due to disability or a long-term illness. One needs to be either self-employed or in full-time employment to access this policy.


Factors to consider when selecting the right health insurance cover

Cost

Cost is often regarded to be among the most important factors that one should consider when looking for the right medical insurance cover. It pays to compare health insurance providers in order to determine which one is likely to offer a plan that perfectly works to fulfill one's needs. Apart from the numerous benefits offered, packages provided by health insurance providers usually vary in cost, making it wise to obtain quotes from various competitors while comparing them against the benefits offered in order to find the most suitable one. Whether shopping for a basic plan or determined to pay more for private hospital treatment factors like coinsurance and copays should never be overlooked at any given time.

Suitability

It may be considered reckless and unwise to invest in a medical insurance cover that is not suitable for you. People of various life stages have specific health policies that best suit their needs. Young adults who are starting out, for instance, may require policies that cover additional activities like travel, physiotherapy and sports on top of the conventional basics offered. Couples who are married and willing to start a family, on the other hand, might be interested in policies with maternity benefits.

Coverage

One should identify and consider all the health services including maternal care, prescription drugs, emergency room care, hospital visits, doctor visits among other important services that are covered by a given insurance plan before investing their time and money in it. Always try to find out whether there are limits imposed on the available services and how often you are allowed to use them annually. Individuals spending most of their time in different states should consider a policy that allows them to get health services in other states. Those requiring special attention like orthopedic services should also ensure their needs are fully covered.

Simplicity

One should always consider having a health insurance policy that is easy to read and simple to understand. This will enable him or her make an informed decision that is based on factual information and interpretation. Whenever one comes across anything they find to be difficult to comprehend, they are usually encouraged to ask for clarification from those involved where necessary.


Health insurance providers in Ireland

Apart from GloHealth, Aviva Health, VHI Healthcare and Laya Healthcare who are the main medical insurance providers in the country, there are a number of additional groups whose main role is to provide health insurance to only a select group of people like the employees of specific companies alone.


CONCLUSION

One can decide to either take both the in-patient and outpatient covers or stick on one that provides the much-needed protection themselves and their families. However, it is very important to understand that some of the available plans usually have highly limited or in other cases no outpatient health cover provided. Such plans which provide limited outpatient cover plans normally manage to pay some significant amount of the accrued medical expenses, leaving the insured with the financial burden of paying the rest of the medical bills on their own. It is wise to begin to make an early health insurance comparison so as to choose a plan that provides you with the best protection and priceless value for your money.