Keeping Costs Low as Health Insurance Premiums Rise in Ireland

Keeping Costs Low as Health Insurance Premiums Rise in Ireland
Keeping Costs Low as Health Insurance Premiums Rise in Ireland

A period of price stability is coming to an end, with all three of Ireland’s health insurance providers recently announcing price increases.

While premiums have been largely frozen, or even decreased, over the past couple of years as a result of the pandemic, providers are now increasing their prices to keep pace with rising costs, demand for private healthcare, and inflation – including medical inflation of 8%.

Irish Life Health was the first to announce their price increases, with an average rise of 5% being introduced in January. Vhi has since announced a 4.8% increase will come into effect from the start of March, while Laya’s premiums will rise by 4.4% in April.

The news comes as the Irish health insurance market is already expecting levies to rise by €32 a year from April.

The Impact on Employee Wellbeing

With the cost of everything from energy to mobile contracts, and from food to rent and mortgage payments, already rising across the board, these additional health insurance costs could see many people choose to cancel their plans as the look to reduce spending.

But with 83,477 people currently on waiting lists for inpatient hospital treatment, and a further 589,670 people waiting for outpatient care, cancelling health insurance plans could result in your employees facing long waits for treatment if they become unwell.

As an employer, offering health insurance as an employee benefit can help boost your workforce’s physical, mental and financial wellbeing, while reducing absenteeism and boosting productivity by fostering a happier, healthier workforce.

Reduce Costs – Not Benefits

But as health insurance premiums rise, it’s important businesses keep on top of costs. Whether you’re looking to take out corporate health insurance for the first time or have had a plan in place for a few years, conducting a full review of the market and comparing all available plans against your needs can significantly reduce costs. It may be time-consuming, but taking the time to review your cover and needs will pay dividends in the long run.

Although prices have stayed largely stagnant over the past couple of years, typically premiums are increased year-on-year. So, if your plan has been on the market for several years, chances are it’s been subjected to more price hikes than newer plans. Many of these new plans offer similar coverage and benefits to legacy policies, so you may be able to reduce costs without reducing your cover by switching to a new plan.

Most providers actually have alternative plans that are not openly on the market, but can offer comparative cover – and, in some cases, even upgrade your cover without increasing costs.

Consider Total Value – Not Just Cost

However, any changes should be part of a full and thorough review. Don’t panic and make dramatic changes in a bid to cut costs, as it could have a significant and negative effect on both your financial situation and the benefits available to employees.

In fact, irrespective of cost, it’s important to shop around for health insurance every year at renewal. Prices aren’t the only factor to change regularly – the benefits and cover available through individual plans can also change. As a result, you can’t assume that your plan is continuing to meet your needs year after year, without conducting a regular review.

Before committing to a new plan, consider the overall value of your scheme – don’t just focus on the price tag. For example, benefits such as EAP programmes and day-to-day expenses can be hugely valuable in improving employees’ physical, mental and financial wellbeing, with the knock-on effect of improving attendance, performance and employee retention. So be cautious before cutting benefits that are providing the most value to employees.

Time to Review Your Health Insurance?

If you’re not currently offering health insurance as an employee benefit, getting a plan in place could be hugely valuable in supporting your workforce’s health and finances as the public health system struggle with demand and costs rise across the board.

If you’ve already had a plan in place for a few years, now is the time to start reviewing alternative options. Chances are, if you’ve stuck with the same plan for more than three years, you’re paying over the odds for cover and could achieve significant savings by changing to a new plan.

Reviewing the market, comparing plans and selecting the right one for your business, workforce and budget can be complicated and time-consuming. There are over 320 plans available in Ireland, and the market is changing constantly. As a result, it might be worth speaking with a qualified broker like Eppione to help you get the right plan in place.

To find out how Eppione can support you in finding your ideal corporate health insurance policy, drop us a message using the form below.

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