Health Insurance made simple ...we promise

When it comes to health insurance in Ireland we know that there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding and we want to set the record straight.  Here, we tackle some of the most common questions our team are asked every day.

What’s a waiting period? 

When you take out health insurance for the first time there is a waiting period that must be served before full cover takes effect. During this time, you’ll be covered for accident, illness and injury treatments, but not pre-existing conditions that you might already have such as heart disease or asthma. Once the waiting period has passed, you’ll be able to claim all your scheme’s benefits, including any pre-existing conditions. More details here

If I switch health insurance will l need to reserve all my waiting periods?

If you already have health insurance with another provider and have served all your waiting periods with them, then you don’t need to start again. We’ll recognise all that time. That’s if you have had no gap in that health insurance cover lasting longer than 13 weeks.

What’s an in-patient excess? 


If you are admitted to hospital for a treatment/procedure you might have to pay an in-patient excess and we cover the rest of your costs. Although many people believe that an excess applies for each night you are admitted to hospital, this is untrue. The excess is applied once per claim. For example, if the excess on your scheme is €150 and you are admitted to hospital for one week, you only pay €150 and we cover the rest. Check your member area to see what the excess on your scheme is or look at the details on your scheme here

What’s an out-patient excess? 

This is the amount of money that you pay towards medical bills before you can claim back from your insurer for everyday medical expenses such as doctor visits etc. You can see the amount you’ll need to pay when you’re looking at the details of your scheme here

If I switch provider am I liable for age loadings due to Lifetime Community Rating?

If you already have health insurance with another provider and there are no gaps in that cover when you transfer to us, then you are not liable for any age loadings. However, since the 1st May 2015 if you are over the age of 34 when you first take out health insurance, you must pay extra for your cover under the Lifetime Community Rating (LCR) loadings. It works out at an extra 2% of your premium for each year above 34, up to a maximum of 70%. You can find out more about the ins and outs of  Lifetime Community Rating here

What is a shortfall? 

Sometimes there is a gap between the charge for hospital accommodation costs and how much your insurer covers. That gap is known as a ‘shortfall’. As you’ll be making up this difference, it’s worth comparing schemes to make sure you’re comfortable with the level of shortfall you’d be expected to pay. Check your member area to see what shortfalls apply to your policy or look at the details on your scheme here

Why are benefits like maternity benefit on my plan when I don’t need them?

Irish legislation states that a minimum level of benefits should be available on all plans including day care/in-patient treatment, Hospital out-patient treatment, maternity benefits, convalescence, psychiatric treatment and substance abuse. Regardless of whether they are needed, they must be included on each scheme.

Why do I need health insurance, isn’t the public system free?

If you live in Ireland and intend to stay here for at least one year, then you are entitled to a range of health services either free of charge or at a reduced cost through the public system. If you’re ok with long waiting lists, then you’ll be fine under the public system.  However, if you want to choose your doctor/consultant or where and how fast you’re treated, then that’s the major advantage of having private health insurance.

Of course, some charges still apply in public hospitals if you are admitted overnight as a public patient. From January 1 2017, in-patients are charged a standard fee of €80 per night, up to a maximum of €800 in one year. You’ll find more information on those charges here

We hope that you find this information useful in making health insurance a little simpler to understand. If you’re still confused, you’ll find more answers here or you can watch our explanation videos on Youtube. 

The HIA (Health Insurance Authority Ireland), a statutory regulator of the private health insurance market also has a glossary here.