This week The Consumer Show has Private Healthcare under the microscope. Consumers who want to compare plans currently available should log on to www.hia.ie which provides a search facility of the 200+ private health care plans currently available on the market.
On behalf of The Consumer Show www.mercer.ie has also compared a number of packages currently available from the three healthcare providers which are listed below.
Example Case 1: Single Woman in her 20s
Mary is 24 years old and is in good health.
Mary requires cover for a semi-private room in a private hospital. She does not require cover for routine medical expenses or lifestyle benefits.
Mary is looking for the cheapest plan to meet her needs. Below are some obvious options for Mary:
Level 2 Hospital
Essential Plus No Excess
Example Case 2: Married Couple with two children
Joe and Mary are 32 and 34 respectively, with two children. The couple have two boys, aged 8 and 10.
Joe and Mary have no major health problems. Joe has a recurring knee injury and regularly visits the physiotherapist, the GP and a consultant. He may need to consider surgery to resolve the problem in future years.
The family are looking for the cheapest plan to meet their needs. Below are some obvious options for this family of four:
Everyday Plan Level 2
Adult Cost: ¤1,160.00, Child One: ¤346.80, Child Two: ¤346.80
Total Cost: ¤3,013.60
Family Plan Plus Level 2
Adult Cost ¤1,104.00, Child One ¤386.40, Child Two ¤386.40
Total Cost: ¤2,980.80
Adult Cost: ¤1,035.00, Child One ¤281.55, Child Two ¤281.55
Total Cost: ¤2,633.10
Example Case 3: An individual aged 65
David is 65 and recently retired.
David requires a plan that covers routine medical expenses and provides good overseas cover to holiday abroad a few times a year.
He also visits the GP regularly and incurs frequent visits to consultants.
Below are some obvious options for David:
Everyday Plan Level 2
First Plan Plus Level 2
Please note that all prices quoted are net prices after 20% tax relief is applied.
Information on Vhi Healthcare charges for breaching 12 month contracts:
A Vhi Healthcare policy is a twelve month contract which cannot be changed or cancelled in advance of a customer's contract renewal date (outside of clearly defined circumstances). This has always been the case and does not represent a change to the terms and conditions of Vhi Healthcare cover. Annual contracts are the standard period of cover for health insurance policies and this is also true of the general insurance business. Customers are free to cancel and change their hospital insurance at their renewal date without difficulty.
If a customer chooses to terminate their contract with Vhi Healthcare in advance of their contract renewal date (outside of clearly defined circumstances) this will constitute a contract breach. In those instances, Vhi Healthcare would not pay any further benefits for the current contract term with immediate effect and as a result of the customer's breach, their contract terms and conditions are as follows:
Renewal Date Pre May 1st 2011
If you renewal date was pre May 1st 2011 and you break your 12 month contract you are liable to pay the reminder of your premium whether or not you made a claim during this contract period.
Renewal Date Post May 1st 2011
If your renewal date is post May 1st and you break your 12 month contract, and had a claim paid during this 12 month period you are liable to pay the remainder of your premium.
No Claim paid:
If your renewal date was post May 1st and you break your contract, but have not had a claim paid you pay a ¤50 cancellation fee and the community rated health insurance levy calculated on a pro rata basis.
(¤205 per annum per adult and ¤66 per child)
The circumstances that Vhi Healthcare will allow a customer to breach their contract mid-year are as follows:
Useful Telephone Numbers for health care providers:
VHI: www.vhi.ie - Tel: 1890 44 44 44
AVIVA: www.avivahealth.ie - Tel: 1890 71 77 17
QUINN: www.quinn-healthcare.com - Tel: 1890 70 08 90
HOSPITAL SATURDAY FUND: www.hsf.eu.com/ireland/ - Tel: 065 686 2500
Buying Tickets Online
In the past if you missed out on a sold out concert or sporting event you often turned to the streets to try and find yourself the golden ticket. But increasingly, people are turning to the Internet to try to source the ticket that they couldn't get from the authorised agent.
Some of these secondary ticketing websites will deliver your ticket but there is also the risk that you will pay well above face-value and end up either not getting the ticket or being denied entry; just like what happened the Hartnett family after they purchased FA cup tickets from Online ticket express. Their dream weekend quickly turned into a nightmare and they tell us their story.
The Consumer Show wanted to investigate one of these sites and so we went to World ticket shop to try to get a ticket for the sold out Justin Bieber Concert in March in Dublin. Tickets were advertised on the site and so we went through the process to see if they would deliver on their promise but the tickets never arrived.
If you are considering buying tickets online from a secondary ticketing website, it is worthwhile visiting www.safeconcerts.com to see other consumers' reviews of some of the secondary ticketing websites available online.
What can you do if your clothes get damaged at the dry cleaners or if an electrical item goes kaput?
What are your rights if a dry cleaner damages you clothes?
The dry cleaner is carrying out a service and that means it should be carried out with the necessary skill and with due care and diligence.
If your coat changes colour, shrinks or if a button comes off as a result of the cleaning, the company is liable to provide you with a remedy.
So if you see a notice in a dry-cleaners saying they are not responsible for broken buttons and zips- ignore it.
On production of proof or purchase from the shop where you bought your clothing, you should get a refund for the cost of the item or a partial refund if it's an older item.
And Broken buttons and zips should be fixed free of charge by the dry cleaner.
Is it advisable to sign a waiver form when it comes to dry cleaning delicate items?
If you to sign a waiver form at the dry cleaner you are relieving them of responsibility for any damages.
One of our viewers bought an iGO charger at Currys which was packaged in a box labeled '2 year warranty'. When he returned to Currys after just over a year, he was told that that the two-year warranty was only for the UK and that in Ireland the warranty is only for 1 year. Currys explained that this information is detailed on a leaflet inside the box.
This was misleading as you couldn't open the sealed box and read the leaflet before purchasing.
Secondly, even without a warranty, under your consumer rights the retailer is legally obliged to remedy defective products for the consumer.
When The Consumer Show contacted Currys about this they said:
"Thank you for highlighting this issue. We have sold a very limited number of these chargers to our customers and this is the first occasion where this mismatch of warranty arrangements between customers in Ireland and the UK has come to our attention. We believe this is unfair to our customers. We will be contacting the supplier as it is unacceptable to have an inferior warranty in place for a product sold in Ireland. We will honour what is written on the box, so will be in touch with Mr Kavanagh, and we will act quickly to change the product so this issue cannot arise again."
When it comes to electrical goods it is a very common problem that the shop tells the consumer that they can't help them once their warranty is up.
This is simply wrong.
Regardless of whether you have a warranty, lapsed or otherwise if you purchase an item that is not fit for purpose it is up to the shop and not the manufacturer to put things to rights on behalf of the consumer.