Private health insurance is a contract between yourself and an insurance company. You agree to regularly pay them a certain amount of money and they agree to pay for a percentage of your medical expenses if you get sick or sustain an injury.
Do I need private health insurance?
Private health insurance might not be for everyone, but if you have more health issues than average, some spare cash, or want to put your mind at ease, it might be the right thing for you.
If your parents have health insurance, you may be covered by their policy so it’s a good idea to check with them first. After that, it’s up to you whether you take out your own health insurance policy or not.
In Ireland, private health insurance can be quite expensive, so if you’re trying to cope with paying for a million other things, it might not be feasible to take out your own policy.
The benefits of health insurance
If you have health insurance the insurance company will pay or reimburse you for some medical services or a percentage of them. This will depend on your policy.
Private health insurance can be a “skip to the front of the line” card. You may not have to put up with long waiting lists to get the health care you need from the public service.
This isn’t always the case. Some consultants can be booked up for months, so you may have to wait anyway. However, taking out a private health insurance policy may be worth considering if you get sick a lot or have a chronic illness that you need a lot of care for.
What kind of medical expenses?
This depends on the policy. The policy outlines all the different services you’re covered for and how much you can claim (get paid back). There are a few types of policies to decide upon when joining any particular health insurance company.
The amount of money you can claim varies between policies and companies. Also, there is usually a maximum you can claim on each service in your policy.
Remember to read the fine print carefully. A policy might say it covers dental work, but if you need more complicated work done they might not necessarily cover that. If you’re unsure whether something will be covered by your policy call your insurance company to check beforehand.
Seeing a medical professional
If you have health insurance you will be sent out a health insurance card, which usually looks like a credit card. Bring this with you when you go to see any medical professional.
If the service you’re using is covered in your policy the insurance company may pay for it right away or you may have to pay up front and they will reimburse you. Check if you have to pay up front with your insurance company and your medical professional beforehand.
Health insurance and mental health
Health insurance policies vary from company to company. Polices don’t always include mental health services so it’s important to check what they cover when buying your insurance.
Some companies offer extra packages for mental health services that you may consider purchasing especially, if you think you may need to talk to a mental health professional at some stage in the future.
How much does it cost?
Because the cost of different policies vary so much and vary according the company, you will need to contact a health insurance provider to find out about their policies and how much they each cost.
How do I get private health insurance?
There are over 420 different health insurance policies in Ireland run by four different insurance companies so choosing the right policy for you can take a bit of work. Some websites explain their policies better than others so remember to send them an email or call them up if you need further clarification.
Cornmarket Group Financial Services LTD is a friendly free service that you can call on 01 470 8096. They can give advice on what’s covered under your current policy or help you choose a new policy based on your needs.
The actual application process is quite simple. You will need to provide your name, address and some other details. If you’re applying over the phone or internet you’ll need to use a credit card. If you don’t have a credit card you’ll probably need to go to a branch.
Please be aware many companies have a waiting period before you can make a claim, meaning you need to join a couple of months before you are covered.
Some companies offer group deals, so be sure to check with your HR department before you apply as individual.
For women, waiting periods also apply for pregnancy and birth related services, so remember to update your health insurance in advance if you plan on starting a family.
Look for best deal
For some people it will make a lot of sense to get private health insurance. For others a bit more research is required before working out whether it’s right.
Look into the different policies carefully to make sure you’re getting the best deal for the insurance you want.