Make the most of your private health insurance

Paying for private health insurance extras and never getting around to using them? About 14m Australians pay for some form of extras cover, according to figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). On average people pay about $600 annually for extras cover. But the benefits paid per person insured averages about $420 annually.

At the top of the claims list sits dental, optical, physiotherapy and chiropractic benefits, but policies cover up to 27 extras benefits in total. Extras cover can include anything from podiatry to psychology and ‘lifestyle benefits’ such as gym memberships and quit smoking and weight management programs. Families might even be able to claim the kids’ swimming lessons.

With only four months until the end of the calendar year, it’s time to use your extras benefits or lose them. Here are four ways to give your health a boost and get more benefits for your extras bucks.

1) Book an eye test

Squinting at the fine print or holding magazines further and further away? It might be time to schedule an eye test. Often extras will cover 100% of the cost of getting your eyes checked and optical items such as glasses.

2) Check your choppers

Top-of-the-range extras policies may cover 100 % of the cost of a trip to the dentist up to three times a year. According to APRA data, dental was the largest component of extras benefits paid for the year to June 2022. Just be aware there is a difference between general dental, which might include a check-up, X-rays, and a clean – and major dental work such as crowns, orthodontics, and root canal therapy. Some cover may only let you claim for orthodontic work once during the life of the policy, for example.

3) Schedule a tune-up

Feeling some aches and pains, muscle tightness, or recovering from an injury? An appointment with a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or remedial masseuse could be just what the doctor ordered. Make sure you check the definitions of what your insurer will cover before making an appointment. In the case of physiotherapy, for instance, it could include one-on-one and group consultations, clinical pilates, ante-natal and hydrotherapy sessions. Generally, the benefits paid won’t cover the full cost of these services, but you can still claim some of the cost.

4) Kick-start a healthy habit

Why wait until January to forge some new habits? Private health insurance extras can cover anything from a gym membership to personal training, a quit smoking program or consulting a dietician. Be aware you may need a letter of recommendation from a GP or a physio to claim some of these benefits or you may need to sign up to an insurer-approved program.

Finally, if you’ve recently taken out extras cover or switched insurers make sure you check any benefit limits, conditions, and waiting periods before booking any appointments. It’s also important to know whether you must use a provider from your insurer’s approved network to make a successful claim.

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