Older people are generally paying too much for their health insurance, according to the conclusion of a study by totalhealthcover.ie which found that about three quarters of over 60s surveyed are still on dated plans for which they are overpaying.

"These plans are generally very good plans, but they cost between €2,000 and €2,500 per adult," Dermot Goode of totalhealthcover.ie said.

"There are plans for around €1,500 that offer better cover in some cases, but they are afraid to switch because they fear they will lose benefits - which is not the case - or they may have to serve out waiting periods - which is also not the case."

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He said there was a new trend emerging whereby health insurers were offering small reductions on these more pricey plans and people were accepting them thinking they had got a good deal.

"€2,500 might come down to €2,400 and they will accept that and do nothing and that's what the insurers want. I would urge those people to ignore those paltry savings. You could be saving multiples of that if you shop around," he urged. 

Dermot Goode agreed that there was good value to be had in the market with something of a mini-price war taking place.

"Generally, there are cuts on the most expensive plans, which is to be expected, but there are also reductions on corporate plans. Anyone can join any plan on the market whether it's called a corporate plan or a teacher's plan.

"Anyone who has not reviewed cover for three years or more, or if every family member is on the same plan or if they haven't looked at taking on a small excess - these are ways to reduce premiums substantially."

Just over 2.2 million people were covered by inpatient health insurance plans at the end of September, an increase of 2% on the total in August of last year.

According to the Health Insurance Authority, around 45.5% of the population is now covered by private health insurance.

Dermot Goode said this was the highest level of cover in a decade with part of it being driven by individuals joining to avoid age loading.

"It's still about 100,000 off peak. In 2008, there were 2.3 million members."

"We're seeing a lot of employers having to fund private health insurance in order to secure and keep staff. Employees want private health insurance and what's driving that is the state of the public health system. People fear waiting lists and they're joining because they can't trust the public system," he added.

MORNING BRIEFS - Sterling jumped to a seven month high against the euro last night on news of that draft text on a Brexit withdrawl agreement. Sterling was up around 1.5% against the US dollar to trade at over $1.30  but it later came back below that level but is sitting there once again this morning. The pound has been volatile of late with the various twists and turns in the negotiations.

*** More than 40 leading companies here have signed up to significantly reduce their carbon emissions between now and 2030. The pledge is being made today at a summit organised by Business in the Community in Ireland - which describes itself as a network for sustainability. Among the 43 corporates are banks, food and drink companies, lawyers, IT and broadcasting organisations among others.

*** UK low cost carrier Flybe is talking to other operators about a potential sale. It announced a plunge in pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of September to £7.4m, down from just over £16m this time last year.

*** Oil prices have dropped to their lowest in eight months amid concerns about a drop off in demand globally.
International benchmark Brent crude dropped almost 7% to just over $65 a barrel - the lowest level since March.
The drop came as the group of oil producing nations reduced its forecast for global oil demand next year.