Has a private health insurance premium increase notice made you wonder how you’re going to stretch your budget further? Then take a moment to make sure you’re still getting value for money.
Health insurance premiums are set to rise an average of 2.74% from April 1. However, policyholders can be impacted by a premium change above or below the industry average depending on where they live, the type of cover, and their insurer. Premium increases range from 0.5% at St Lukes Medical and Hospital Benefits Association to 5.47% at CBHS Corporate Health Pty Ltd. And with last year’s premium increases only taking effect in October, it may seem like the rises are coming thick and fast.
So what can you do about it?
Check your excess
Paying an excess if you need a hospital stay is one way to reduce your premium. In 2019, some insurers introduced a $750 excess. If you think you can avoid a hospital stay in the next couple of years, opting for a higher excess can lower your premium.
Be aware of your benefits
Considering a switch? Basing a decision to switch solely on price may not serve you well. It’s important to run a health check over the benefits, exclusions, and limits of your current policy. And check the impact on benefit waiting periods before switching. When you change funds you’re entitled to keep the waiting periods you’ve already served and receive a refund of any premiums you’ve paid in advance.
If you upgrade your cover or change to a policy with a lower excess or gap fees you are likely to have to serve a new waiting period for the difference in cover. Again, check the fine print. Insurers often offer sign-up bonuses to encourage people to switch at this time of year. They can include waiving two- and six-month waiting periods.
Waiting periods for extras vary. They can be 12 months for major dental services and 36 months for hearing aids. You can claim a once-only waiting period exemption for mental health services. Extras have limits on what you can claim depending on the level of cover. The more comprehensive the cover the higher the limits are likely to be.
Compare and contrast
Perhaps you can reduce your premium by taking out hospital cover and extras cover with different insurers. The website, privatehealth.gov.au, is one way to check out the full range of hospital cover and extras cover options. Comparison sites can make it easier to check policy features offered by different insurers but they may not include restricted membership options offered by the likes of the defence and education sectors.
Pay in advance
Renewing your policy before April 1 is a great way to get round the price hike.
Secure a discount
There are other ways to trim your premium. Some insurers offer a discount if you pay by direct debit. Alternatively, check if you can get a corporate discount. Or there may be a youth discount offered for those aged 18-29.
As you can see, it may pay to do a little investigating before simply absorbing this year’s premium increase.
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