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The end of VHI Plan B: What do I need to know and do?

Health insurer is ending the workhorse plan - known as Health Plus Extra, Health Plus Access, Health Plus Excess and Health Access - chosen by up to one in 10 customers

Ah don’t tell me the old VHI Plan B is retiring?

It is indeed. After decades as the workhorse of Irish health insurance, the plan many people would have grown up with will vanish from May 1st.

It is worth noting, mind you, that it hasn’t been called Plan B for donkey’s years and the plans that are being retired are actually known as Health Plus Extra, Health Plus Access, Health Plus Excess and Health Access.

Will many people be impacted?

According to the Health Insurance Authority, the move will impact about 130,000 people representing one in 10 of the VHI’s customer base. Many will be older and will have continuously renewed their cover out of a sense of (misplaced) loyalty or inertia or a desire to retain full cover for major orthopaedic and ophthalmic procedures.

What do you mean by misplaced loyalty?

The reality is that anyone who doesn’t shop around for better value health insurance every three years or so is paying over the odds. This was particularly true of the Health Plus plans which were considered by insurance experts to be expensive and getting more expensive all the time.


Health Plus Extra was priced at €2,951 per adult in April 2023 climbing to €3,169 last October and to €3,400 last month. That is a cumulative increase of €449 in less than a year A retired couple who decided to renew on the Health Plus Extra scheme from March 2024 would have to pay almost €900 extra to cover the cost.

So now that they are gone, what do I need to do?

An alternative will be offered by the VHI to those affected but people should take the opportunity to get the best value and resist the urge to auto-renew on whatever is offered.

What should I be looking at?

There are alternatives available from VHI such as their Advanced Care product range but, according to Dermott Goode of, “members need to be careful that they aren’t transferred to more expensive options”.

For example, those on Health Plus Extra could consider the VHI Advanced Care Extra scheme at €3,327 – just over €70 less than the plan they are on now – but the outpatient cover is not as generous. They will likely be offered the Advanced Care Extra Day-to-Day scheme but this will increase their cost further to €3,543 per adult.

That doesn’t sound great

No, but there are other options for Health Plus Extra members that offer “exceptional cover for approximately €2,400 per adult versus €3,400 on Health Plus Extra”, Goode says. And for those on Health Access or Health Plus Excess, they may be able to save up to €400 per adult by shopping around across the market.

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But shopping around is confusing, right?

It can seem that way. There are about 350 plans on the market and people are understandably fearful of making the wrong choices when it comes to something as important as their health. The good news is there are rules in place that give consumers protection irrespective of their age or their health issues.

What kind of rules?

For starters, you do not lose the cover you already have by moving from one company to another. If the plan on the table from Company B offers enhanced cover compared to the cover you had from Company A, you will most likely have to wait for that to kick in, but whatever cover you had already, you keep.

And I can’t be penalised for a pre-existing condition?

No and we can’t stress that enough. Unlike with other forms of insurance, you cannot be penalised financially because of your health or age. When it comes to health insurance, everyone is considered equal in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of the providers.

So, how do I go about making the right choice?

The first thing you need to do is arm yourself with some facts. Call your current provider to see whether they have a lower-cost equivalent plan to the one you are currently on. If you are happy to take on some minor reductions, depending on the savings, let them know that too.

They will already have a complete record of all previous claims you have made, so the simplest question to ask is whether any new and cheaper plans would have covered all the claims that have been paid out over the last two years and to the same level. If you are talking to a different provider, be upfront, bearing in mind you will not be penalised for honesty.

Detail all the important elements of your existing policy, and outline any underlying conditions and procedures carried out. Have them confirm that any new and cheaper plan will cover everything you have had covered in the past.

And should I do it all online?

No. When it comes to health insurance, it is much better to do it over the phone. Providers like it when we shop online, but by doing so we become responsible for all the decisions, be they good or bad.

By talking to a company representative and asking the right questions, and insisting on having everything explained – and don’t feel bad about asking questions – you put the onus on them to make everything clear. Remember, calls will be recorded “for training and quality purposes”, so they can’t take you down the garden path over what is actually said.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast