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To health insurance or not to health insurance, that is the question?

  • 17-01-2023 5:28pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,860 ✭✭✭

    So im in my 30s, honestly don't know if it's worth getting health insurance or not, its max €800 a year if you need to stay in hospital past 8 days without insurance so I wonder is having insurance worth it or not.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,032 ✭✭✭✭Geuze

    Health insurance is not designed to save you money.

    It is meant to help patients get treated faster, by skipping the public queue.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,405 ✭✭✭RedXIV

    If you have a pot of cash that you can draw on if you need to pay for private, it actually may make sense to not pay 800 a month for now, especially if you're fit as a fiddle.

    However, like all insurance, it's like a security blanket, you pay for it, hoping you'll never need it but glad you did when you do.

    If you think it will be worth doing at a later point, be warned, having not paid in the past will heavily penalise you in the future

  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭Pronto63

    Have had health insurance, for the family, for possibly 30 years now.

    Felt it was expensive but necessary. Even maintained it when I lost my job in 2008 and was out of work for a couple of years - that was a struggle!

    Now I have a condition which requires hospital administered medication every 8 weeks.

    it’s actually a common enough condition but the treatment is totally life changing for me. You just wouldn’t know I was ill.

    Each treatment, in a private hospital, costs €3,000 a pop.

    €3,000 x 6 = €18,000 pa

    Reckon I’m now getting value for money.

    Also if I was going public I’d possibly be still on a waiting list to get seen by a consultant.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,860 ✭✭✭Pissy Missy

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,860 ✭✭✭Pissy Missy

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,860 ✭✭✭Pissy Missy

    Thanks for your response and sorry to hear about your condition. That's some waiting list going public. With 18k per year, does your insurance pay a fraction on that? I wonder if it would be the same price without insurance

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,196 ✭✭✭Potatoeman

    Look at some of the public waiting lists. I wouldn’t want to need something done and be waiting that long. Health issues can pop up unexpectedly so it’s definitely worth it, also sometimes things are not covered for a few years if you just join.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,981 ✭✭✭conorhal

    I'd go hungry before surrendering my health insurance.

    The value of private health insurance is in accessing diagnostic tests and things like an MRI for which public waiting lists can leave you in a bad state if you get a late diagnosis for an illness in which early diagnosis is time critical like cancer.

    As for the usual whining about 'skipping the queue', no, I am not willing it sit in a queue in a broken system and die for 'equality' and no, I'm not skipping any queue in the first place for diagnostic tests any more than somebody with the cash the buy a house is skipping the housing list queue.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,999 ✭✭✭✭Esel

    Not your ornery onager

  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭Pronto63

    If I went public it wouldn’t cost me a penny but the issue is waiting lists!

    My policy has an excess of €100 so I have to pay €100 every 8 weeks but my insurer pays €3,000 every 8 weeks.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 378 ✭✭Bicyclette

    Even being able to go to a Laya or a VHI Clinic is great. They charge less than a GP and you can get xrays and things done quickly. They aren't replacements for your GP but in an emergency they are fabulous. I think you have a limited number of visits each year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,405 ✭✭✭RedXIV

    I forgot not everyone has a wife and tribe of kids to pay for on their insurance :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 878 ✭✭✭A Law

    Penalty actually isn't that bad. It's 2% per year over 35 and you pay if for 10 years.

    So if you forgo the insurance until 45 and take out a 1000€ policy at 45, you'll only pay an extra €2000 over the 10 years.

    Anybody who is fit and healthy are low risk at the age from health problems but it's still a risk.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,757 ✭✭✭cython

    From April it won't even cost that for inpatient treatment in public hospitals, as the inpatient levy is being abolished from April 1st 2023, so if that was your sole motivation for getting health insurance, then it's a waste for you alright. However, as others have noted, the access to private diagnostics, cover for day to day expenses, etc. may be worth it to you, but realistically you're the only one who can make that assessment for yourself.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13 paperdaisy

    This is an interesting and informative thread but I would really curious to know the answer to OP's specific question "I wonder if it would be the same price without insurance"... Pronto63's insurance company is paying €3000 per injection on their behalf, but if someone were paying privately upfront for this treatment, would they be charged the same price? 🤔

  • Administrators, Entertainment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,707 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭hullaballoo

    I have health insurance and overall the point of it for me is to have peace of mind if something serious happens to me or my family.

    It is practically useless in many other respects. The so-called "services" that come with it are a joke. The clinics imo are pointless if not a liability because the standard of care on offer is hopeless. I've experienced things like being told I should have gone to A&E with a minor injury (instead of the minor injury clinic?!), to incorrect diagnoses of serious quality-of-life-affecting conditions (instead of the bad bruise my GP diagnosed in follow up consult), to refusal to make payments in accordance with the policy (I had to nearly go to the top of the company to get this resolved), to plain old ignoring requests for GP consultation for sick kids despite jumping through hoop after hoop to submit the request (including photos of symptoms).

    I think if you're considering health insurance, it's to offset the risk of costs resulting from serious illness and certainly not for the advertised services.

  • Registered Users Posts: 449 ✭✭L.Ball

    I just wished it would make a difference regarding A&E visits

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,757 ✭✭✭cython

    I'd generally advocate for the merits of health insurance, but the day that it makes a material difference for A&E visits will be a day of an even more broken and dysfunctional health service than today. People attending Emergency Departments should be prioritised solely on the basis of their condition and need of treatment (i.e. triage as we have today), and not on he basis of their financial situation.

    That being said, for more minor issues that may require treatment in ED (rather than by a GP, etc.), health insurance does open up more options in the form of A&E in private hospitals, the likes of VHI Swiftcare, etc., but anyone having a genuinely serious medical emergency (stroke, cardiac incident, etc.) regardless of their access to health insurance will almost certainly experience a better outcome by attending an ED in one of the major public hospitals, as the private ones are not equipped for that kind of issue, and will pack you off to a public one with time wasted, but generally after taking their fee for seeing you too. If those public A&E services start putting extraction of money over patient welfare/urgency, then the service will be degraded for all concerned.

  • Registered Users Posts: 43,024 ✭✭✭✭SEPT 23 1989

    I don't have health insurance but have a few quid put by so I can pay for private A+E, scans etc if needed

    thankfully used very rarely

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,280 ✭✭✭HBC08

    I'm not with Laya but my sister is.She has two sporty teenagers and injuries,broken bones etc are a near monthly occurance.Even though the Laya clinic is a 3 hour round trip she goes there every time,seen within an hour (usually half an hour) x Ray,cast and out the door.Thats a pretty good option compared to 16 hours in A + E.

    My auld fella in his 80s broke his leg and straight to Laya clinic to be seen immediately.

    My mother insisted on paying for my health insurance when I was travelling around the world in my 20s,I thought she was mad.Then as soon as I moved back to Ireland I developed a serious back issues,lots of MRIs,consultants,physio,nerve blocking injections etc followed,I wouldn't like to have been hanging around for a few years on waiting lists for that.

    The sad reality is health insurance is an absolute must have in this country as our health service is largely non functioning.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,043 ✭✭✭Icsics

    We’ve also paid insurance for years & never used it. Husband has recently used it, quickly saw consultant. Wouldn’t be without it

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,171 ✭✭✭✭Furze99

    Kinda depends on whether you'll pay the €800 and climbing annually from your own pocket or whether an employer will pay for it in part or whole.

    Remember once you're in, it's hard to drop without that sense that you're wasting years of contributions. So they have you over a barrel.

    If you are basically healthy, eat and live healthy and can save a bit - that's an option.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,187 ✭✭✭✭IvySlayer

    I've had health insurance for about 4 years. I pay around 40 euro a month. Never really had use for it, but last year I had trouble with my back and needed an MRI. Went to GP, gave them my details and my health insurance organised the MRI appointment within 2 weeks and I didn't need to pay anything extra, even got 50% back from GP appointment.

    If you can afford it, it's nice to have peace of mind.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,245 ✭✭✭✭Galwayguy35

    I was the same as you until I got a hernia back in 2020, just getting called for the operation now.

    I took out a policy after that because the waiting lists are going to get a lot longer and there is always a danger a serious problem could get missed if its not seen in time.

    I'm late 40s so its cost me quite a bit to open a policy but I still think its worth it to get access to private health care.

  • Registered Users Posts: 247 ✭✭mct1

    I had health insurance starting in my 30s - being self-employed I needed to get back to work and earning as soon as possible should I get sick. Otherwise, I'd probably have waited as my overall health and fitness was good. It's only in my 60's that I developed several unexpected health conditions needing tests, consultant appointments and multiple surgeries. So now the insurance definitely pays for itself in peace of mind, speed of care, and cost.

    OP there's no right or wrong answer, but no harm to gather the facts. You'll likely need some treatment as you get older so when that time comes you should be prepared to pay or to wait...a long time. Our elderly neighbour waited three years for a hip replacement, immobilised and in pain. Another waited 18 months to see an ENT surgeon, meanwhile so deaf that she couldn't communicate. Both could have afforded to go private and improve the quality of their final years but decided against.

    One more thing is that there are at least 3 providers out there, and literally dozens of plans - sometimes new ones appear. If you sign up, do check every year to make sure you're policy is still the best for you. I change ours regularly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,720 ✭✭✭Greyfox

    It's a tough one, I'm 42 and don't have any. I haven't needed it for the last 12 years so id find it very hard to pay for it out of my own pocket.. I'm in good health but at 42 it's very likely that something will happen to me in the next few years. I feel I should have something but with all the different plans its a bit of a minefield

  • Registered Users Posts: 638 ✭✭✭gary550

    Last quote I got for health insurance was €2.5k per year with VHI

    Think Laya was about half of that but obviously a variation in cover. Just for me - an adult in 20's.

    Rambling here and Haven't decided on anything yet but by logic if I was to save the €2.5k a year and stick it into a low risk fund at something like 4-5% return I'd probably have +- €70k in a pot (factoring in tax on that gain and a few bad years) if I was to get sick in my mid 40's and needed money. How much that would solve in 20 years is anyones guess.

    What got me thinking about this was a now retired family friend who paid insurance for a considerable amount of time, he was self employed so it made sense at the time from his perspective as a security net. When he retired he estimated that his insurance spend for him and his family would have easily bought a house - they didn't need to use the insurance either at any point for anything major. If he had of went the other route he'd have an easily sellable asset worth xxx,000 and probably years of decent cashflow that would have went strides toward solving most health issues. He's not short of a penny and was astute enough in business but it obviously got him thinking of what could of been with that money.

    It's only when you shop for these things that you realise that even a relatively small annual expenditure turns into a whale over a lifetime when especially considering you have to keep paying the insurance forever essentially to get the use out of it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,208 ✭✭✭✭recode the site

    Always beware about private health insurance having pitfalls and limitations. At times it’s like quicksand.

    I had a full colectomy with ileostomy in 2016 in a private hospital, it’s a very big surgery but a real blessing for long term health for me as I no longer have ulcerative colitis. Ahead of surgery i did my due diligence and checked that I would be covered. During surgery there were unexpected bleeding complications due to a large amount of highly vascular adhesions which had to be removed, I had to be placed in ICU for a number of days receiving multiple transfusions. When I received the statement there was an outstanding ICU bill. I phoned insurance company and more or less the gist of it was I shouldn’t have conceded to go into ICU without consulting them in order to verify expenses as the consultant in the hospital was said to be charging more than the agreed payment. I refused to cough up the outstanding amount and it was written off.

    Another thing, as a patient in same private hospital, on another occasion, a patient in same room became unexpectedly critically unwell with sepsis and ARDS and needed to be put on a ventilator. It all kicked off about 1am, and was very distressing to witness somebody gasping for air. In order for her to be transferred to ICU and put on a ventilator her primary consultant needed to signs document. It was totally unexpected that this turn of events would happen as the condition for which she was admitted wasn’t intrinsically dangerous but she suffered a rare complication of an investigation. They were resuscitating her in my room until 6.30am when her consultant finally picked up his phone which he seems to have had on silent mode during the night. You do NOT receive best care in a private hospital when things go pear-shaped.

    Can I get away with anything if I pay the piper, so to speak?