Individual top-up health insurance is set to rise by more than 7% in 2024 experts have warned, prompting users to seek new ways to save. Here are some tips to help save.
Consumer association UFC-Que Choisir has warned that the ‘average’ rise of 7.3% does not reflect the full reality; some rises will be in double figures, particularly for older clients.
Maria Roubtsova, who manages health questions at the association, said: “The price of the contract is indexed to the age of the policyholders, and policyholders are getting older…For 2024, we are really talking about double-figure increases.”
The increase can be partly attributed to the government’s policy of transferring reimbursement costs from the social security system to ‘top up’ or supplementary health insurance.
Tips to reduce your top-up health insurance premiums include:
1. Shop around
Increased competition may mean there are still good deals to be found, especially among those who are happy to shop around and compare premiums. Since December 1, 2020, people have been able to end insurance contracts at any time after one year meaning clients can change if they see a better price.
And older people appear to be benefiting from this. A study by the Comité Consultatif du Secteur Financier (CCSF) showed that retirees accounted for almost half (46%) of all mid-contract cancellations.
However, Ms Roubtsova said that top-up health insurers are often still not “transparent enough about their rates and reimbursements”, which “prevents policyholders from making an informed choice”.
She said that some comparison tools do not detail quotes as transparently as they could and urged shoppers to pay careful attention when looking for new deals.
2. Remove unnecessary cover
All policies will offer some basic cover, including 100% reimbursement for certain hearing, dental and optical treatments. However if your policy includes more than this, you may have room to manoeuvre when it comes to reducing your payments.
“The first thing to do is to remove any optional cover that does not correspond to the amount of care you need,” said Ms Roubtsova.
For example, retired policyholders may be able to remove cover for things such as dietician treatments, or the birth of a child. Removing such items - if you can - may reduce the cost of the policy considerably.
3. Take out a complémentaire santé solidaire policy
Those with lower incomes may be eligible for the complémentaire santé solidaire (CSS) scheme, and records suggest that three million people in France are unaware that they are eligible.
Since November 1, 2019 this aid enables policyholders to be covered by a free - or almost free - mutuelle.
The scheme is income-tested however. To qualify a single person's taxable income must not exceed €9,719 for the previous tax year. If you exceed this, you will need to make a financial contribution, which depends on your age.
It starts at €8 per month for people under 29 (who do not need much care), rising to €30 per month for those aged over 70 (who need more care).
4. Beware of the cheapest organisations
UFC-Que Choisir warns that although it may be tempting to save money and go for the cheapest option from a comparison tool, the advantage may only be temporary and could rise significantly later.
“The cheapest mutuelle insurers may also be the ones with the biggest price increases,” said Ms Roubtsova. “New policyholders may be in for a nasty surprise with a price that jumps the following year.”
It is always advisable to check the small print before signing up, and beware of ‘too good to be true’ offers.
5. Choose your insurer carefully
Some top-up health insurers are known for being better-value than others.
The latest annual report published last December by research agency Drees (la Direction de la recherche, des études, de l’évaluation et des statistiques) showed that management costs at some of the most well-known companies (Axa, Generali, Allianz) was 22%.
This compares with 20% at companies including Aésio, Harmonie mutuelle, and Maif.
Lower extra costs will likely mean that your premiums will be lower. Smaller insurers may also offer better rates as they work to build up a loyal customer base, so these may be a good option even if just in the shorter term.
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