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Consumers encouraged to shop around amidst rising health insurance costs
Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

January is the busiest time for health insurance renewals yet many consumers are missing out on hundreds of euro in savings by not switching.

Over 500,000 customers are expected to renew their health insurance plans before the end of the month, with policyholders unsurprisingly set to face yet more rate hikes, as households face potential increases of between 300 and 600 on their premium.

January's arrival brings with it much needed change in the form of New Year's resolutions, but so too does it bring the dreaded malaise of flu season. For this reason alone it's more important than ever for consumers to revise their current health insurance plan as soon as possible so as to ensure value for money and an appropriate level of cover.

And with a number of plans set to increase, the importance of shopping around has never been more relevant for savvy consumers.

So what's changing?

What you need to know

A number of plans are set to increase this month so if you currently have health insurance, are in the process of renewing, or are simply researching the market, then listen up!

VHI's Health Plus Premium is increasing by €640 for a couple, with the new rate now €3,495 a year.

Irish Life Health's Health Plan 09 has increased by €556 with the new rate standing at €4,871, while Laya's Essential Plus Excess is up €336 for a couple at €2,763.

The following are "examples of poor value schemes" compared to what is currently available on the market, according to, who is advising consumers to change from these plans 'as a matter of urgency'.

VHI Plans:

  • Health Plus Choice (€2,948)
  • Health Access (€1,756)
  • Forward Plan (€3,271)
  • PremiumCare (old Plan E - €4,597)
  • Family Plan Plus Level 1 (€1,635)

Laya Plans:

  • Essential Plus (€3,793)
  • Essential Plus Excess (€2,852)
  • Flex 125 Choice (€2,395)
  • Company Health Plus no Excess (€2,421)
  • Health Manager (€4,917)

Irish Life Health Plans:

  • Level 2 Hospital (€2,821)
  • Level 2 Complete Health (€3,689)
  • Optimise Silver (€3,973)
  • Optimise Platinum (€6,605)

The predictions on the current state of the market from revealed that older people are the most at-risk group when it comes to overpaying on their health insurance, especially if on dated plans, paying, on average, between €500 and €1,000 more per year than they need to.

Mr. Goode said:

“Dated plans are generally not good value – that’s the essence of it. There are some plans still on the market that we have not recommended to anyone in over 10 years. When we review cover for those on these schemes, approximately 95% end up switching to a better value plan with similar cover...and while they [older plans] provide a good level of cover, they are simply way overpriced compared to other options now available”.

What's next

It's not all doom and gloom, however. According to Goode, '3 out of 5 policyholders are on the wrong plan' and are, thus, overpaying on their premium, meaning they could benefit greatly from shopping around for better value. But with January being a very busy time of year, people generally don't have time to reassess, to the detriment of the price of their premiums.

Goode, however, suggests people should not allow their plans to passively auto-renew, whereby they let their cover roll over for another year, but rather 'seek independent advice or get a trusted friend or family member to assist you' as 'the savings are too significant to ignore.'

And although trends are suggesting a continued increase in premiums into 2020 on the back of rising claims costs last year, shopping around is a great New Year's Resolution to combat paying more money for an outdated plan.

"The key is to shop around at each renewal to avoid the impact of the increases coming down the tracks. If you’re on the same plan for three years or more or paying more than €1,800 per adult, or if you don’t have a small excess on your policy, then you’re at risk of over-paying and a review of your cover is definitely recommended," said Goode.

Consumers can also consider switching to a corporate health insurance plan, open to all consumers, despite the name.

Corporate health insurance plans are some of the most competitive and attractive options on the Irish market. But many Irish consumers don’t know that these plans are actually available to everyone!

However, Goode also warned that there are consumers now on dated corporate plans as well, which have been overtaken by lower-cost equivalents and therefore these plans also need to be reviewed. They include some of the following:

  • VHI Company Plan Extra Level 2 at €1,838 per adult
  • Laya Company Care Excess at €1,943 per adult
  • Irish Life Health Business Plan Select at €2,258

Make the switch today

Don't let the January blues get you down when you could potentially pay for your car or home insurance by simply switching your health cover.

Go to the health insurance section of and simply enter some details of your existing health insurance plan. One of our expert health insurance advisers will then contact you to arrange an over-the-phone consultation. A comprehensive in-depth fact find will be conducted and you'll then be provided with a list of recommended health insurance plans for a consultation fee of just €125.

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