Lifetime Community Rating FAQ

Lifetime Community Rating (LCR) – Your questions answered


Q: What is Lifetime Community Rating (LCR)?

A: Currently in Ireland, everybody is charged the same premium for a particular health insurance plan, irrespective of their age, gender and their health. This is called community rating.
On May 1st 2015, the government will introduce Lifetime Community Rating legislation. Under this legislation the rating is modified to reflect the age at which a person takes out private health insurance. Late entry loadings are applied to the premiums of those who join the health insurance market at age 35 or over.

Q: Why is LCR being introduced?

A: The primary purpose of introducing LCR is to encourage people to purchase health insurance at a younger age. Encouraging more people to join the market at younger ages helps spread the costs of older or less healthy people across the market, helping to make premiums more affordable for all.

Q: Who will pay lifetime community rating loadings?

A: Loadings will apply on policies that start on or after the 1st May 2015. From this date anyone who takes out private medical insurance at age 35 or over who never has had health insurance in Ireland before or a break in cover for more than 13 weeks will have to pay a loading.

Q: How are the loadings calculated?

A: From 1st May 2015, if a customer is purchasing private medical insurance policy and are 35 years or older they will pay a 2% loading on top of their premium for every year they are over 34, up to a maximum amount of 70%.

Mary is aged 40 and wishes to take out a private health insurance place on or after 1st May. Mary will pay 12% more than someone her age who took out the same policy before the 1st May deadline expired. i.e., 2% x 6 years = 12%.

Q: Are there exemptions from Lifetime Community Rating loading?

A: Yes
• There will be no LCR loading’s applied to those who have health insurance in place before the grace period (30th April, 2015)
• If you have held health insurance in the past, you will get credit for the qualified period.
• If you have received certain types of social welfare payments or have been dependent on someone who has received such payments, you may be entitled to receive credits.
• If you have lived abroad before the 1st May 2015 and return to Ireland after this date, you have 9 months to take out health insurance without any loadings.

Q: Will I have to pay a loading for the rest of my life if I continue to maintain my private health insurance cover?

A: Yes. The loading that applies when a person buys private health insurance after 1 May 2015 will apply in subsequent years.

Q: Can an insurer make an exemption for me from the LCR loading?

A: No, under LCR legislation, loadings cannot be waived by the insurer.

Q: What happens if I switch from one insurer to another?

A: Switching from one insurer to another or from one policy to another does not affect the applicable loading. Loadings, if any, will continue to apply and insurers are required to supply each other with proof of an individual’s prior cover.