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Frequently Asked Questions

What is private health insurance?

Private health insurance is insurance that helps cover all or part of the medical and hospital costs incurred. Other benefits may also be provided as part of your policy.

Can anyone buy private health insurance?

Yes. All applicants for private health insurance cover must be accepted by a private health insurer, regardless of their health status or age. However waiting periods may apply before benefits can be claimed.

What is the difference between a public patient and a private patient?

Beds in public hospitals are designated as either public beds or private beds. If you are receiving treatment as a public patient you are entitled to free maintenance apart from a charge of €80 per day, up to a maximum of €800 in a year from 1st January 2016 (this is referred to as the public hospital inpatient charge). If you hold a medical card you do not have to pay any public hospital charges. If you are a public patient you do not have the right to choose your consultant.

Private and semi-private hospital care in Ireland is provided for in private hospitals and also in public hospitals. If you opt for private care in either a public hospital or a private hospital, you or your insurer must pay for your treatment and accommodation.

As of 1st January 2015 hospital charges for treatment and accommodation as a private or semi-private patient in a public hospital are up to €813 per day for a semi-private room and up to €1,000 per day for a private room. Private hospitals are free to set their own charges. You or your insurer will also have to pay medical consultant’s fees.

Can I buy a company plan even though I am not an employee?

Yes. Company plans are available to all regardless of whether you are an employee or not.

What is a pre-existing condition?

From 1 May 2015 a pre-existing condition is defined as:

“Pre-existing condition” means an ailment, illness or condition, where, on the basis of medical advice, the signs or symptoms of that ailment, illness or condition existed at any time in the period of 6 months ending on the day on which the person became insured under the contract.

I have an existing condition; may I switch health insurers? Will I be covered for my condition straight away?

You may switch health insurers regardless of your existing conditions. If you have completed your new customer waiting periods, you will be covered immediately for any existing condition. However if you wish to use a benefit on the new plan which is higher than the benefit provided on the old plan, you may have to serve an upgrade waiting period before full cover for this benefit is available. Please see this section on upgrade waiting periods for more details.

Waiting periods below:

Accidents Illnesses that start after you join
None 26 weeks
Illnesses that existed in the 6 months before you join Maternity related claims
5 years 52 weeks

If you are switching plans, the following maximum waiting periods may be applied to any higher benefit on the new plan:

Any higher benefit 2 years
Maternity benefits 52 weeks

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