There’s no doubt that we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out began in Ireland, however long after Covid-19 is brought under control, there is one impact of the pandemic that won’t recover for a long time.
Almost 840,000 people are now on hospital waiting lists in Ireland, and that number is projected to grow thanks to the latest surge in Covid-19 cases.
This is up from the end of 2020 when there were 606,230 people waiting for outpatient hospital consultations – a figure that itself had grown since the beginning of 2020 by more than 50,000.
So, what does this mean for you?
It means that if you get sick, or need treatment for a condition that requires a consultant or surgery, you may have to wait – for months, and potentially even years.
One customer recently told us she waited two years on a rheumatology waiting list for an appointment with a consultant, only to be told one month out that her appointment had been cancelled. That was two years ago and she has not heard from the department since.
Another sobering example lies within a 2019 National Cancer Registry report which found that survival rates for certain types of cancer are “significantly better” if patients are attending private hospitals.
The reality is that now, health insurance is pretty much a necessity; without it, you could join a waiting list for medical treatment that could have a serious, if not life changing impact.
Get health insurance that is right for you.
If you are among the one million Irish people whose health insurance is due for renewal in the first three months of the year, now is the time to review your health insurance to make sure you are getting the best deal.
The impact of the pandemic – alongside other factors such as the increasing costs of medical treatments and an ageing population – will likely see the cost of health insurance plans continue to rise.
Yet reviewing, and potentially switching your health insurance plan can make a big difference not only to your pocket, but to the benefits you receive too.
You can still access benefits during the pandemic
With private hospitals being made available to the HSE to provide surge capacity in the fight against Covid-19, you may wonder about your access to private health cover.
In some cases, certain treatments may not be available for a short time while extra capacity is required. There are however a range of valuable benefits that are still available under your health insurance to keep you fit and healthy.
For example, Irish Life Health’s Digital Doctor service provides members with unlimited GP consultations over the phone or face-to-face with an online video facility. The service is totally free and available around the clock, seven days a week. GPs can even arrange a prescription to be sent directly to your preferred pharmacy.
Irish Life Health’s Back-Up program is another benefit that gives members access to a chartered physiotherapist for treatment of acute back and neck pain. The comprehensive program provides up to six treatments for a once off fee of €50.
And if the pandemic has left you feeling anxious and is having an impact on your concentration, productivity or even affecting your sleep, you can benefit from speaking with a qualified counsellor through the Irish Life Health Healthy Minds service which is free for members and available 24/7.
Don’t be afraid to switch your plan
It may seem daunting to switch your plan but in reality, it is very straightforward.
It is important to know that if you already have a health insurance policy, government legislation protects you from being penalised by health insurers on the basis of your age and state of health. You cannot be charged a new age loading if you switch provider, nor can an insurer charge more based on your previous claims. Furthermore, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you don’t have to serve any additional waiting periods.
The only factor to note is that if you are upgrading your plan, you may have a waiting period until those benefits become available.
We can help you get the best deal
In Ireland, health insurance is offered by three providers, Laya, VHI and Irish Life Health. In theory, with just three insurers, it may seem easy enough to review the market.
Wrong. There are literally hundreds of health insurance plans available and if you are insuring a family, you can benefit from having each family member on a different plan.
But reviewing each provider’s plans to ensure they deliver the benefits you need at the right price takes an incredible amount of time, and an in-depth understanding of the market.
Hennelly Finance is the west of Ireland’s leading health insurance advisor and has access to all the plans available on the market – even those that are not advertised to the general public.
We can review the market for you and provide a recommendation for health insurance based on your needs and your budget.
To find out more, call us on 091 586 500 today to review before you renew.