The really simple guide to switching your health insurance

If you’re considering switching, the Health Insurance Authority’s comparison tool can help you make an informed decision
The really simple guide to switching your health insurance

The HIA’s online comparison tool is an easy option, allowing you to compare your current policy, or if you’re new to private health insurance, you can research all the options on one website. Photograph: Getty Images

January is a time for new intentions and looking to the year ahead. Optimism and change are in the air. It’s also a time of year when fresh starts and resolutions around health concerns and health care are top of mind.

If getting or switching health insurance is something you’re considering, you can receive free, impartial information from the Health Insurance Authority (HIA), a government body that is a statutory regulator of the private health insurance market. 

The Health Insurance Authority’s online comparison tool is a great starting point. We caught up with a consumer affairs specialist from the HIA for some added advice on how to use the tool.

Q: What kind of information does the Health Insurance comparison tool give?

A: We’re independent and we provide information to consumers on private health insurance. Our new online comparison tool was launched in 2019, and is a great starting point for consumers looking to review their policy. You can use it to compare your current policy, or if you’re new to private health insurance, you can research all the options on one website. Often people will get plan recommendations from friends and families, or the insurers themselves, and they use this as a starting point.

Q: What information do I need to have to hand?

A: If your policy is up for renewal, go to  ‘Compare your current plan', and all you need is the name of your policy.

 The Health Insurance Authority comparison tool.
The Health Insurance Authority comparison tool.

Plans will appear on the comparison tool that closely match the price of your existing policy. A lot of options can still appear, but you can narrow down the selection by using the filters down the left hand side.

By using the ‘Cover Options’ section you can reflect your plan requirements more accurately and reduce the number of plans being shown. For example, if day-to-day cover is important to you or if cardiac or orthopaedic cover are priorities, you tick those options to filter your original results further.

Cover options on the Health Insurance Authority comparison tool.
Cover options on the Health Insurance Authority comparison tool.

You can also filter plans based on hospital type, plan type, excess level and price. You can look at four plans side-by-side at one time. You might have to do more than one comparison.

The purchase of private health insurance is an important decision and you should therefore consider how the results relate to your particular circumstances, and check the full plan and price details directly with the relevant insurer before making your choice.

Q: When you first land on the Health Insurance comparison tool, it also gives options for Cash Plan and Out-patient Only. What are these?

A: A cash plan provides a fixed monetary amount for a range of medical costs but does not provide comprehensive in-patient cover. Out-patient plans provide cover for a range of out-patient expenses including GPs, consultants and alternative practitioners.

Both cash plans and out-patient plans provide money back for day-to-day and out-patient expenses. So if a consumer is mainly concerned with cover for these types of expenses, rather than comprehensive in-patient cover, they can be a good choice.

Q: What’s a good average for in-patient excess to start with on the slider?

A: In-patient excesses can be as high as €600 or as low as €50. The higher the excess, the lower the premium will be. The average cost a consumer spends on a policy is around €1,200, which would have an excess of €150 - €300.

Q: Why would someone want to prioritise private hospitals?

A: If someone decides, for their own personal reasons, that they would like to prioritise private hospitals, they should be mindful of the hospitals covered under policies, as not all private hospitals will be covered.

Q: Does preferring a private room add a significant cost to a premium?

A: It can add on to the cost of premiums but there may not be a significant difference. Also remember, a private room is not guaranteed as it depends on the rooms hospitals have available at the time.

Q: How much leeway should consumers give on the budget slider?

A: We would suggest that a consumer needs to consider how much they would like to spend and also consider how much they can afford.

It is important to note that the prices shown are today's prices as have been notified to the HIA. The price and plan details do not reflect scheduled changes which have not yet been implemented. For information on future price and/or benefit changes, please our [url=

https://www.hia.ie/news/latest-news]Latest News Section[/url] on the website.

Q: Can users save searches for future reference?

A: No, but you can print your searches or share them by email. That way you can have details to hand for future reference.


To avail of HIA’s impartial information on health insurance plans, visit the [url=https://www.hia.ie/health-insurance-comparison]online health insurance comparison tool[/url].

Alternatively, call 1850 929 166 to speak to a consumer affairs specialist. If one isn’t available, you will be asked to leave a voicemail stating the best time to call back at. Your call will be returned within 48-72 hours at a time that suits you and will take approximately 30 minutes. Or you can email info@hia.ie.

You will need three details to hand: your renewal date, plan name, and ages of consumers. The HIA get notifications 30 days in advance, so if your renewal is January 1st, you can call them from December 1st for the most up-to-date information.

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