The six-week change-over period to switch health insurance providers has now started and will run until the end of the year. So what are the red flags you should watch out for?
You may have already had a letter from your health insurance company outlining what you can expect to pay next year. On average, premiums are going up by around €9, which is less than the government expected. The eigen risico – or own risk element – remains €385 and there is little change to what the basic policy covers. So should you stick with your current provider?
“You need to be aware that even if you stick with the same policy, some of the small print might change,” says Bas Knopperts, an expert in health insurance at comparison website Independer.
“This could mean, for example, that your entitlement to physiotherapy in a supplemental policy has gone down. In short, what is best for you one year might not be best the next, so it is always wise to do a detailed check using a comparison website.”
That is not to say there are hidden charges or other red flags, says Knopperts. “Insurance companies are pretty open about charges which you might have to pay yourself, but you should be aware of them so you won’t end up with any nasty surprises,” says Knopperts.
“For example, you may have to pay part of a treatment yourself because you want a specific doctor or hospital. This is something that every insurance company does, but it is good to be prepared and find out in advance when you might have to pick up some of the bill.”
Although health insurance premiums have gone up by around €9 on average, there are wide variations between the different insurance companies and the gap between the cheapest and the most expensive is now more than €400 a year. You can get an idea of where your current insurance package fits in price-wise using the Independer comparison tool.
Dental insurance is another area where you need to do some hard thinking. “It really depends on your teeth,” says Knopperts. “If you only go to the dentist once or twice a year for a check-up, then it is cheaper just to pay the bills yourself. But if you are going to need more complex treatment, separate dental insurance might be sensible.
“You need to do the sums yourself and decide what risk you are prepared to take. And of course, children’s dental care is covered in the basic policy, so you don’t need to worry about them.”
Basic insurance policy
Every year the government makes changes to the provisions in the basic policy, but this year because of the November general election, there have only been a couple of small, uncontroversial improvements.
For example, the basic policy now includes special help in learning how to fall, to prevent more serious injury. And if you have Long Covid, there will also be more help for you in terms of specialist care, such as physiotherapy. Some minor changes have also been made to the maternity package for new mums.
So is it worth going through all the hassle of checking your current policy and finding a new provider? It is, says Knopperts, a relatively hassle-free process. “You don’t even need to worry about all the jargon if you use an insurance comparison website like Independer, because their health insurance tool is in English as well.”
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