As many people would agree, your health is your wealth. But the later in life you decide to take out private health insurance in Ireland, the more it will cost you. In this blog post, we will go through what added premium costs you could face if you wait until later in life to take our private health insurance.
According to the Irish Times, in February 2022, there were 75,000 people waiting for inpatient and day-case procedures in Irish public hospitals. This may push more and more people to opt for private health insurance so they can guarantee their health needs are covered.
What is a Lifetime Community Rating (LRC) – health insurance in Ireland?
Since 2015 Ireland has operated a system called the Lifetime Community Rating. This system is used to calculate if a percentage loading is to be applied to an individual’s private health insurance premium. Everyone who is on the same type of insurance plan should pay the exact same premium cost no matter their gender, age, and medical history.
For a private health insurance market to work, you need both young and old people to join. Statistically, the older generation is more likely to need inpatient treatment than younger people. But if there are only elderly people in Ireland taking out private health insurance, then the market cannot operate properly.
The Lifetime Community Rating incentivises younger people to first take out private health insurance before the age of 35. If you take out insurance for the first time after the age of 35 then a percentage loading of 2% will be added for every year you delay.
Health Insurance Loading by Age in Ireland
If you are 35 or older and considering taking out private health insurance for the first time, then here are the specific load factors for each age. The maximum load factor you can face is 70%. This rate applies to anybody aged 69 or older taking out insurance for the first time.
The above table assumes you have never been taken out any private health insurance before. Let’s also consider this scenario, where a 50-year-old is now taking out private health insurance but has had insurance for 6 years when they were 25. Prior periods of cover will be taken into account when calculating your load.
In this case the individuals load factor would be calculated as follows:
50 – 6 = 44 – Load factor of +20%
As they had prior cover this was deducted from their current age when determining the Lifetime Community Rating.
How long does loading charge last for?
Loadings will only be charged for a maximum period of 10 years. This means that if you take out private health insurance for the first time at 40 years old, then a loading factor of 12% to your premiums until you are 50 years old.
Will switching health insurance provider affect me?
If you want to change health insurance provider that is no problem and you wont face any loading charges if you have been insured since you were 34 years old. You are also entitled to have a break period of up to 13 weeks when switching between providers without effecting your entitlements.
Are there are any exemptions or circumstances which reduce your loading %?
Here are some circumstances which are exempt and where your load factor can be reduced:
Immigration: if you have just moved to Ireland (and you are > 34 years old), you will have 9 months from the time you arrive to purchase inpatient health insurance to avoid a loading being placed on your premiums.
Emigration: If you have emigrated and left the state (for periods greater than 6 months), you have 9 months from the time you return to purchase inpatient health insurance to avoid a loading being placed on your premiums.
Time spent as a dependent: Time spent as a dependent paying the adult rate on a health insurance policy is credited towards potential LCR loadings from age 18 onwards.
Credit periods: if you have cancel your health insurance and have previously been covered for at least 3 years then may be entitled to a credit for time that you have been uninsured up to a limit of 3 years.
Another frequently asked question is if having a medical card reduces the requirement for loading. Unfortunately this has no bearing on how much loading will be applied to your premiums.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice.