Following a query from a Comhlámh member, we have been in touch with the Health Insurance Authority requesting clarification on the recent regulatory changes for private health insurance and how these could impact on international development workers and volunteers.
These are the three questions we asked and the official response:
1. My query relates to people returning to Ireland having worked/volunteered overseas as a humanitarian aid worker or development worker for an extended period of time. If they return to Ireland and take out private health insurance and they are over age 34, will they have to pay the loadings?
Anybody who lives outside of the State on 1 May 2015 and moves to live in Ireland will have 9 months to purchase inpatient private health insurance avoiding the loading under Lifetime Community Rating. The onus is on the individual to prove these facts to the insurer. This can be done for instance by providing copies of bank statements opened while abroad, evidence of accommodation lease arrangements or utility bills paid while abroad. Travel documentation or application for a PPS number would be accepted as proof of taking up residency in Ireland.
2. If the humanitarian aid worker/volunteer has had private health insurance through their employer (not necessarily Irish), does this count as having held private health insurance?
Only periods of cover with an Irish health insurer are taken into account in calculating the loadings that apply.
3. Is there a time limit for when people have to move back to Ireland in order to avail of the 9 month window to purchase private health insurance? For example if an aid worker moves back to Ireland in 2020, will they still be able to avail of the 9 month window to purchase private health insurance without loading?
As the regulations currently stand there is no such time limit.