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[00:00:01]

That pot Kenny show on Newstalk. Well, now, are you covered by your health insurer, if you test positive for covid-19, can you claim back the cost of a test from your insurer? What's the best plan out there at the lowest price? Well, Dermott Good, health insurance expert with total health cover, i.e. is on hand to answer all your questions.

[00:00:22]

Dermot's good morning. Good morning. Let's talk about covid-19 first, what's covered by health insurance policies. Well, the good news, though, is that it looks like the health insurance companies have done a deal with pretty much all the private hospitals, so where people were being asked to pay upfront for fraud charges for the KOVA test, and we believe those charges were ranging from 75 to 250 or in some cases, it looks like that all the private hospitals have agreed deals now with the insurers, which basically means members should not be asked to pay upfront for those tests anymore.

[00:01:01]

I think there's still two hospitals where they're still working through the details. And I understand that there's an arrangement in place on the agreement for the moment. That was the discussions are ongoing. People won't be charged. So it is good news for for most consumers. Excuse me. I would say that if anybody has already paid that charge and obviously there wasn't an agreement in place, they should contact their insurance company straight away because I believe they will make those payments retrospective.

[00:01:30]

And so hopefully that means no more, those charges for people going into private hospitals now.

[00:01:36]

Now, if you've been treated in the hospital for covid-19, is there any insurance relevance here or is it all regarded as being on the public health system? At the moment, any anybody being treated should be treated in public hospitals and at the moment there are no charges being levied by the public hospitals for that. So so that's good news. Now, the only thing is that some people hold these cash plans and like the likes of the cash comes from HSF health plan.

[00:02:04]

And if they have a plan and they're admitted to hospital for treatment of Kowit, even if they're not charged by the hospital, they're still entitled to the cashback on that plan. So, once again, if anybody has been unfortunate enough to be in hospital with covid and they have a cash payment from HSF health plan, they should contact them because they should be entitled to make a claim. And if, for example, if they're due a hundred euro cash for every night in hospital, they may still be able to claim that on the policy.

[00:02:29]

So they should make that claim. Just contact HSF and then give them the details.

[00:02:34]

And going back to that test, if you had to pay for a test in the private hospital, can you claim that back from a cash plan if you haven't yet?

[00:02:44]

This is the interesting thing about the cash plans in that at the moment the information we have is that, yes, it's considered a hospital test and hospital tests are covered by those plans. So, you know, nobody is obviously fortunate to have covered. But if they're out of pocket and they've had to pay for those tests and let's just say they don't have health insurance or let's just say that the insurance company won't pay for it for some reason, even though it looks like that's resolved.

[00:03:08]

Yes, they should contact the cashpoint provider, because at the moment, HSF are advising those that they will entertain those claims and they will pay them up to the limits on the particular plan. So, once again, if people are in doubt and I would say to all of our listeners if they've any queries, so if somebody is about to go into a private hospital in the next two or three weeks and they've been told to have to have a test on before they come in, they should contact their insurance company now to make sure that that hospital has an agreement with them and that if any charges that say there's a mention of charges that they know exactly where they stand before they start forking out money unnecessarily and trying to pay it back afterwards because maybe people don't realise it.

[00:03:47]

One of my pals had to go in for a day surgery, but had to have a KOVA test before they would let him go in for the procedure, had to be cleared of.

[00:03:56]

Exactly.

[00:03:56]

So what we understand pretty much all those procedures, it is I mean, I know if you're going in for any surgery about a week beforehand, they what they will want to test you just to make absolutely sure, which makes sense. But also we've understood that we understood that people are going in for minor, let's just say, procedures. We're having very basic testing done and like not the full of tests, like the temperature check and questionnaire under what charges is being applied.

[00:04:22]

So it looks like that has all been resolved now by but all of the insurance company. So once again, I would be phoning my insurer straightaway so I know where I stand. So before I set foot in the hospital and anybody presents me with a charge, I know exactly whether I'm covered or not by my insurance company.

[00:04:37]

Now, many people are under pressure financially. They might want to reduce the cover. They have to save money. Can they do so and still get a good quality of cover?

[00:04:49]

They absolutely come and you look, you know what we're saying to everybody now is that, look, if if you're coming under pressure, engage with your insurance company or your advisor, because there are a number of options. I mean, look, very quickly, if you're on one of those old plans going back three or four years or more, then the likelihood is you can knock a significant amount of your policy for probably even better cover in some. So if ever there was a reason to review, that will be part of you don't have a small excess on the policy.

[00:05:17]

Now, these excesses are normally 75 to 100 euros per claim in private hospitals only then that's a great way of knocking anything. Let's just say from 10 to 20 percent off the premium part of your cupboard for a private room in a private hospital. Look at the semiprivate options that could knock four to five hundred euro product off the cost if you have everybody on the same policy. Well, look at your cover. And that means putting the lower risk people, particularly children, onto maybe the lowest possible Infernus.

[00:05:47]

All the insurance companies have good options then for child cover. Leya Health Care launching an offer from tomorrow where the second and subsequent child can be insured free on one of their plans. So there are details out there. One thing that we've come across, the amount of people who still have their 18 to 20 year olds insured on their policy because obviously they can't afford to pay it themselves or they won't pay for it themselves. And too many people are paying the full adult rate.

[00:06:14]

So labor members in particular, I could be paying 1800 for my 20 year old. And if I phone layer and switch down to a plan that has what we call a young adult rate, I could get that young adult insured for 600 years. So if any of your listeners if you check your policy documentation and if those young adults are being charged a full adult race, just like the parents, you need to get onto the insurance company straightaway because you can knock a huge chunk off your premium and still basically and still have super cobra in place.

[00:06:44]

Unfortunately, though, a lot of people really those options still won't reduce the premiums sufficiently. And I would say to them, look at the lowest cost options, look at the antenatal plans, because you're better off staying in the system. At least if there's no break in your career, you won't be hit by the pre-existing exclusions and things like that. And so we would advise everybody where possible, try and stay insured. And but if you do let your COBRA lapse, you have that 13 week period that if you rejoin within that 13 weeks, it's not ideal, it is risky, but you won't have to risk their waiting periods.

[00:07:17]

But there are loads of options there for people across all 340 plans to save money.

[00:07:22]

And because they enjoy it, I find loads of questions in quick succession. Can you ask Dermot what package would be best for two adults and two kids currently with VHI paying 3500 40 per annum? There are no underlying health conditions.

[00:07:36]

Kids are 13 and nine, but I think they're paying too much. And right now, if that if that family is open to switching and that Leya offer right now, it's very, very competitive. They should check out simply connect plus with Leah for the adults, the oldest child. And the plan that's that's free from tomorrow is essential to connect health with a free for for the next year straight away. That'll reduce our cost down to three thousand. And they will actually still have superb cover for all of the funding.

[00:08:06]

I'm 41, has health insurance, but cancelled it a few years back because I was getting a deposit for a house together. I want to get it again. I'm very active, quite healthy. I haven't been to a doctor in over ten years. I had to see a physio a couple of times over the last few years due to an old injury aggravated by running. I only want a basic stroke, cheap package. I have a budget ideally of about 60 a month.

[00:08:26]

What's there for me?

[00:08:28]

OK, so here's what I would say. They the budget that they have doesn't give them a lot of options. Unfortunately, the plan I would suggest and look at straightaway is contact the Hagey and ask for a plan called one plan. Five hundred. It's seven hundred and eighty euro slightly just above their budget and they just need to be careful. They're over thirty for strictly speaking, the insurer will try and apply loadings, but they will get credit for their previous membership.

[00:08:52]

So before that person phones any insurance company, just get the details of their previous membership, which if they have more than seven years previous cohort, they would have no no loadings to pay whatsoever. But I would start off on that plan because it does cover all public and all private hospitals, albeit with a high excess, and it's pretty close to their budget.

[00:09:11]

What's the best insurance for a male 74, female 69 with heart fibrillation and high blood pressure? That's the female, I think.

[00:09:20]

OK, so what I would say here now for this couple, because of the age and also just that condition that was mentioned for me, I'd be recommending they go on a good corporate scheme. Now, don't worry about this term corporate. Anybody can join these plans, but they are the best deals in the market, probably the three best deals right now to be fair to each provider, Irish, Irish life, health for Fordy, Health to Super Cobra Leya have a plan called Simply Connect and VHI have a very good plan called.

[00:09:48]

Company plan plus level one point three, now, those plans will cost them between 1252 and one thousand three hundred fifteen euro. However, the only little catch here is their age if they're joining as new members. They will have the maximum loading of 70 percent each and that will stay on their policy for the next 10 years. So can they join any plan? Absolutely. Will they have the same waiting periods as a 26 year old? The answer is yes, but the loadings could make it prohibitive for them unless they had COBRA previously.

[00:10:21]

And if they did, they would get full credit for that.

[00:10:23]

But there the plans I'd be suggesting they consider, does your VHI or Leya cover you for covid, etc. if you travel to another country, does the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advisory negate your cover? What if the status, green or red of the other countries change after you leave Ireland?

[00:10:40]

Now, this is an interesting one and actually we can really have a full program on this because this changes nearly every day. So just to break this down, everybody who has a decent health insurance plan, that's the mid-level plans upwards. We all have between 55 and 100000 euros worth of emergency medical coverage if we fall ill abroad. Now, right now, if we travel to a country that what I regard as a wish list, it's on. But if it's still down as essential travel only, that's that's still acceptable.

[00:11:09]

In other words, you should still be able to use that COBRA. So you have a little bit of cobra if you travel abroad. We've been advised that if the designation of the country, if it now comes up on the DfE Web site, that travel is restricted or basically it's rare. In other words, do not travel if you still travel. Our understanding is even the limited cover on the health insurance policies will not apply. And so people need to be very careful now to separate things.

[00:11:34]

This is travel insurance and this is where most travel insurance policies now will not cover anything to do with coverage. If you travel to a country that's on the green list and you have travel insurance, then your medical costs should be covered if you fell seriously ill. Whether it's whether it's covered or not. But our understanding is that whilst it still says it's sorry if you travel to a country that's not on the on the green list, then you won't have any travel insurance.

[00:12:00]

Or even if I book a holiday today and it's on the green list and three or four days before I'm due to travel, it now is on the red list, then effectively my travel insurance will be negated. So our advice to everybody now, whether they travel insurance or not, if you have to travel, you should always check everything directly with your travel insurance company and with your health insurance just to understand exactly where you are, where you stand, what the likelihood is.

[00:12:23]

You will still have some medical cover with your health insurance. But in terms of being able to claim expenses back from your travel insurance, that's going to be very difficult going forward. So it's a very tricky one and it changes regularly. So prior checking is essential.

[00:12:37]

David Taylor says iConnect Simplicity with Layer. I'm 71, a widower living with a new partner. Is this the best scheme for me? Also, as my partner is not an Irish citizen, could I put her on my policy?

[00:12:51]

Yes. Can I just say this person has selected a very good corporate plan. 1361 euro prattled and it covers up to a private room and private hospitals. And it also gives very good reforms on outpatient expenses so that they have selected well. So I wouldn't be recommending any changes unless they're not happy with that plan. And in terms of letters, they add in their pocket to the policy, no issue with that whatsoever. Once again, if their partner, they say, is in the same age category, they could have the age loadings to worry about.

[00:13:21]

Here's something that's really important and this is relevant to this question as well. We have received a huge amount of inquiries from people who had to move back to Ireland because of Kowit and are planning to stay here indefinitely now. But now they have to take out health insurance. And many of these are over 34 40s and 50s. If they take out COBRA and like this person's partner, if they're added to the policy within nine months of returning to Ireland and they've been out of Ireland since 2015, they can they can join with no age loadings that will save them an absolute fortune.

[00:13:53]

So what I would say to this person, if their partner has just relocated here or anybody who's just back in Ireland and obviously they're getting set up with schools and houses, health insurance can often slip by the wayside if you take out cover within the nine months of returning here. And once you have evidence to prove you lived abroad, you can get rid of those age loadings completely, which will save a fortune. And all the insurance companies will just look for evidence that you lived abroad.

[00:14:17]

Very important that people don't miss one final one, someone saying I wanted to go semiprivate with Leah. And they told me the semiprivate in their book means a six bedded ward.

[00:14:30]

Is that the case where, you know, whoever wherever they spoke to a liano must have been having a bad day part because look at Semiprivate is up to five beds maximum if there are six beds in your world. I beg your pardon? You're now in a public ward. So and most hospital now semiprivate means between two. And five maximum, so, no, they didn't get correct information there, and if they go into a private hospital, there are only private or semiprivate beds.

[00:14:55]

So it's the public hospitals where they will be able to see the public hospital accommodation. And actually, Pat Riley introduced a lovely term for public accommodations now called multi occupancy rooms. And but no, they haven't got correct information there. So I will get back onto me on that one.

[00:15:11]

Jared, good health insurance expert with total health cover, i.e.. Thank you very much for joining us.