Your personal finance questions – Should we drop health cover for our children if hospital fees are scrapped? –

Q I see that children may soon be treated free-of-charge in public hospitals. If this happens, is there any value keeping them on my health insurance policy?

A Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said recently he has received approval to draft a Bill to provide for the abolition of both overnight and day case public in-patient charges for children under 16.

The change will be made this summer. This is good news for consumers generally, especially for those with no health cover, according to Dermot Goode of At the moment, he said, families have to bear the full cost of the €80 per night public hospital charge, up to €800 in any one year. However, he advises that you do not cancel your health cover for any family member just yet.

Bear in mind that around 8pc of all those on public hospital waiting lists are children which is one of the main reasons for holding private cover. Also, if you add children to your policy at a later date and they have existing medical conditions, these will not be covered for five years. This is known as a pre-existing exclusion.

Mr Goode said you should check out the excellent deals for young children with all the insurers costing between €150 and €200 per child. Sometimes there are offers where you only pay for the first child and the rest can be insured free for the next year.

Q I am a public-sector worker with a good pension coming my way in two years’ time. However, my health has not been the best in recent years, and I am taking stock of my affairs now so I know where my wife and grown-up children will stand financially should my illness progress quickly. I read recently that there were some changes to how death-in-service benefit is paid out to families, but I am not entirely sure how or if this would impact us?

A The only change that may impact you is that from January this year, the recipient of death-in-service benefit (of over four-times the deceased’s salary) will be able to choose between purchasing an annuity or transferring the funds into an Approved Retirement Fund, said Glenn Gaughran, of the Independent Trustee Company. Up until now, they could only choose the first option.

However, annuity rates are currently regarded as poor value in many cases, he said. This means this change will be a welcome development for many people, as it would give your dependants far more flexibility and potentially a better retirement income, Mr Gaughran added.

Q I retired as a nurse from the HSE four years ago and since then I have worked part-time …….


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