How to get a better deal on your health insurance

April 1 is looming – but there are some simple ways to make sure you get a better deal

There’s a week left until health insurance premiums rise – but it’s not too late to check whether you’re getting the best deal for your health insurance.

Here are some handy tips for getting the best deal from your health insurance policy.

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IT CAN BE REALLY TEMPTING TO TAKE OUT THE CHEAPEST POLICY YOU CAN FIND – WHY IS THAT NOT A GOOD IDEA?

With private health insurance premiums rising by at least 3.95% on April 1, it can be tempting to downgrade to a cheaper policy, or take the cheapest one available.

However, before you do so, you need to be sure about what you need to be covered for and aware that cheaper policies will cover you for less.

If you’re not certain about the type of cover you need, privatehealth.gov.au has a comprehensive guide to the two types of private health cover you can gethospital cover and extras cover (also known as general treatment cover or ancillary cover).

If you drop your hospital cover, you might have to pay extra tax — so make sure you’re not falling into that trap without being aware of it.

THERE ARE SO MANY POLICIES ON THE MARKET, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING ONE?

Consider what you are likely to actually use on your policy. It’s worth having top hospital cover if you anticipate you may be regularly in hospital in the coming years.

When you take out extras cover, you will have limits on what you can claim depending on the level of cover you choose.  The more comprehensive — and typically more expensive — the cover, the higher the limits will typically be.

If you choose top extras cover but rarely make claims, you may be better off with a basic extras cover. The important thing is to compare policies so you’re getting the best value for the cover you choose.

There are several ways to do this:

PRO CON GOOD FOR
Type 1: The government comparison website – privatehealth.gov.au Contains almost all policies on the market. Gives one-page summary of each policy to simplify the jargon. A bit clunky to navigate, and sometimes out of date. Can be overwhelming because it shows you ALL options instead of recommending a plan. People who are confident doing their own comparisons. People who don’t like giving their phone number over (see below)
Type 2: Commercial comparison websites such as healthinsurancecomparison.com.au* Does a lot of the work for you. Can filter 1000s of options so you’re not overwhelmed. Does not contain every provider and every offer on the market. People who want some help doing comparisons. People who don’t mind giving their phone number over

ONE WAY TO SAVE IS TO MIX AND MATCH – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

It’s common to purchase your hospital cover and extras cover as a package from the same provider. However, if you shop around and find different providers for each type of cover, this is called a ‘mix and match’.

IF THERE ARE PARTS OF YOUR POLICY THAT YOU DON’T NEED CAN YOU PUT THEM ON ICE?

This is where reviewing your cover is really important — many of us haven’t reviewed our policy in years and could be paying extra for cover we don’t need. If you don’t want children or have finished having a family, removing obstetrics, IVF and pregnancy services from a policy saves about $500 p.a. for a family, on average.

You may also be paying for extras that you don’t claim on – which is where contacting your provider and checking how much you have claimed (or not!). If you pay for options like physio or orthoptics and Many health funds now have apps that track your claims

However – sure you know what you’re trading away when you downgrade your policy.

There’s no point saving $100 to get rid of something you need cover for. Insurance is always about deciding how much risk you can live with. If you can’t bear to live with ANY risk, you’ll just have to pay top dollar. The ombudsman has some advice on policy “exclusions & restrictions” here.

IF YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF LOCKING IN YOUR PREMIUM SHOULD YOU DO IT?

If you pay annually before the price hike on April 1, you will be charged the current rate (pre-price rise), essentially putting off the price hike for a year and locking in your current premium price. If you can afford the lump sum payment, it is worth doing.

* In highlighting particular offers we are not making specific recommendations as this article does not cover all available products and may not compare all features relevant to you. Any advice provided is general in nature and does not take account of your needs, objectives or financial situation. Individuals should consider their own circumstances, and if in doubt seek appropriate advice, before proceeding.