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VHI and other insurers to partially refund customers after takeover of private hospitals during Covid-19 crisis

The size of the refund a customer receives is based on the plan that they have with the insurer.

A room at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
A room at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Updated Apr 16th 2020, 8:59 PM

VHI HAS CONFIRMED that all of its health insurance customers will receive a waiver on part of their premiums for the next three months following the government’s public use of private hospitals during the Covid-19 crisis.

The insurer made the announcement this afternoon, saying that the move applies to private health insurance customers and that the initial three-month period will be extended should the government’s arrangement also be extended.

The size of the waiver a customer receives is based on the plan that they have with the insurer, with different plans having different levels of cover for private hospitals. 

The vast majority (80%) of customers will receive a refund of 45%, while 15% of customers will get a 55% refund and the remaining 5% receiving a 60% refund.

VHI says this equates to an average 50% waiver across its customers and that it applies across the months of May to August.

VHI also says that its dental insurance customers will receive a waiver of 30% of their premium across the same period due to non-emergency dental practices being closed.

Laya Healthcare, Irish Life and other health insurers have also been contacting customers with similar changes to their policy premiums.

Irish Life says that customers with private hospital cover (Advanced Plans) will receive between 36% and 60% of their monthly premium back, and those on plans with largely public hospital cover (non-Advanced Plans) will receive between 17% and 21%

In a statement this evening, the Health Insurance Authority has said that individuals should contact their own insurance company to find out the measures that will be available to them.

“Having been a part of the discussions with the Department of Health, health insurers, the HSE and the Central Bank over the last number of weeks, we welcome the measures put in place today. It is important to have this range of supports in place for consumers as a result of the Covid-19 crisis,” HIA CEO Don Gallagher said.

The takeover of private hospitals was announced on 30 March and is to be in place for an initial three-month period, with an option to extend it after that on a mutually-agreed basis.

In its statement today, VHI said that its supports the government’s “national response to Covid-19″ but acknowledged that it impacts its customers.

“Vhi has an important role to play in these uncertain times and our promise to our customers is that we will be there for them during these difficult days,” acting CEO Declan Moran said this afternoon. 

We have put in place a mechanism that addresses the changed manner in which some services can be delivered. We are doing this in as transparent and fair a manner as possible across our different customer groups. 

Health Minister Simon Harris this afternoon welcomed the confirmation by health insurance companies to offer customers a rebate over the next few months.

“I welcome the measures announced by each of the insurers today, which are focused towards assisting health insurance customers impacted by the Covid-19 national response,” Harris said. 

“The measures announced are being taken in recognition of the temporarily changed landscape in which health insurers currently operate. I am pleased that insurers are exercising forbearance and providing appropriate assistance to their customers during this most challenging time,” he said. 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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