Health Insurance guide

5 health insurance myths debunked

5 health insurance myths debunked
Mark Whelan

Mark Whelan

Staff Writer

There are still many myths and misunderstandings about the Irish health care system. In this guide, we debunk five of the most common myths out there.

Ireland's public and private health care systems are the subject of constant discussion and debate, but there are still many myths and misunderstandings about how the system really works.

In this health insurance guide, we debunk five of the most common myths out there so you can make an informed decision about you and your family's health care.

1 – Public health care is free

Many people resist taking out private health insurance because they think that care provided through the public system is free. Well, it’s not! The public system only provides a price cap, not an exemption.

All Irish citizens who don’t have a medical card or private cover must pay €80 for a night in a public hospital, up to maximum of 10 nights in any given year.

So, if you have to spend 10 nights in hospital over a 12-month period, this will end up costing you €800 in the public system. Not a small sum!

There are other charges too. If you attend the outpatients department of A&E without a doctor's referral you're looking at a €100 fee and anyone between the age of 6 and 70 will have to pay for any GP visit unless they have a medical or GP card. 

2 – You have to re-serve waiting periods when switching policies

When taking out a private health insurance policy for the first time, you have to serve what are known as ‘waiting periods’. These are designated periods of time within which you can’t claim for certain illnesses after your policy commences.

For example, if you develop a new medical condition within the first six months of your first policy, you won’t be able to make a claim against the cost of treatment. Once the six months have elapsed however, you’ll be free to claim the cost of expenses for new conditions covered under your policy.

And when it comes to pre-existing conditions, the waiting periods can be as much as five years with some providers.

Some people don’t switch policies out of fear that they’ll have to re-serve these waiting periods with their new insurer. This is not the case, so long as there hasn't been a break of more than 13 weeks in cover.

If you have served your waiting periods with one provider and subsequently take out a policy with a new provider, all credit from your previous policy will be carried across. What a relief!

3 – Full disclosure will mean higher premiums

When taking out private health cover, many people worry that they will be hit with higher premiums if they disclose the whole truth about their medical condition and history. This isn’t the case!

In Ireland, there are no loadings with health insurance, meaning that there are no penalties applied for multiple claims.

By disclosing all information about your health and history, you will be in the best possible position to get the right plan for you and your requirements. After all, there are over 300 different health insurance plans out there, so there's a good chance you'll end up on an unsuitable policy if you don’t share openly.

4 – Corporate plans aren’t available to everyone

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!

The best way to find out which plan, corporate or otherwise, is best for you, it’s vital to compare the entire market with a service like ours to be confident of getting the best available plan out there.

5 – Customers can’t switch policies regularly 

Just like any other contract, private health insurance contracts must be honoured. But the good news is that they are only a year long, meaning there's nothing to stop you switching every year if you want to. 

What’s more, some private health insurance providers now allow members to change their policy mid-contract.

It’s useful to think about your health insurance the way you do your car insurance – shop around every year for the best deal out there!

The truth is out there

Ireland's health insurance system can be challenging enough to understand, even without the many myths that still exist. But by knowing the truth about the cost of the public system, waiting periods and corporate plans, you are in a good position to make the right decision about health insurance for you and your family.

Don't believe the myths, the truth is out there!

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