One week to go until health insurance premiums rise

Health insurance premiums rising by at least 4% on April 1, find out if you could be saving money 

With just days left until Health Insurance premiums rise on April 1, it’s important to know where you stand and whether you have the right policy for yourself and your family.

If you’re looking at switching, you can scroll down to see the range of current incentives for new customers.

TODAY also spoke to money expert Bessie Hassan about the latest Finder research into Australians’ habits when it comes to Health Insurance.

TODAY: Can you explain the main findings of this health insurance research and what are the most interesting aspects?

HASSAN: finder.com.au surveyed more than 2,000 Aussies and found that 2 in 5 admit to getting sucked in by special promotions on health insurance. With the April 1 premium hike just a week away, insurers are pulling out all stops to win new customers. These can include such things as gift cards, frequent flyer points, first month free, waived waiting periods, and historically things such as fitbits and gym memberships. Unsurprisingly, Gen Y is the most likely to be persuaded by these inducements. Waived waiting periods and gift cards are the most popular promotional offers.

TODAY: Which type of policies should people be on the look out for?

HASSAN:  Look for value and don’t fall for short-term reward. A $200 gift voucher might sound exciting but it may not be worth the long-term price of your policy.  Restricted industry health funds that apply to professions such as doctors, nurses, teachers and military workers may offer more favourable rates. Make sure you speak to your HR department to see whether you’re eligible to join with one of these. Of the big four health funds, HCF is offering the most favourable rate at 3.39% compared to the industry average of 3.95%.

TODAY: Do you have any tips for people who are looking at health fund alternatives before premiums rise?

HASSAN:

  • Pay up front and save: “The benefit of switching before 1 April is not only will you save by moving to a cheaper health fund but you can also lock in 2017 prices if you pay your annual premium upfront, which could save you $150 – $200 on average. Some health funds offer additional 2-4% discounts for paying
  • Mix and match: “If you are considering switching, don’t forget you can take out hospital cover with one health fund and extras cover with a different provider, which can sometimes be cheaper.”
  • Consider the price of the policy: “A fitbit or a gift card might be worth $100-$200 but given the average annual premium is around $3,400, it’s worth looking at all the details before signing up.”
  • You don’t always need to reserve waiting periods: “If you’re switching to a different health fund on the same level of cover you do not need to reserve waiting periods, so waived waiting periods shouldn’t be the only consideration.”
  • Switch to an industry or corporate fund: “Industry health funds are usually not for profit and you may be able to get a good deal through your workplace that is better value for money in the long run.”
  • Take a quiz to see whether you need health insurance.
  • Look at historical price rises: “Look into your fund’s premium increases over the last five years, compared to the rest of the market. If it’s clear they’re upping costs at an unfavourable rate, it might be worth considering changing insurers.

Current Special Offers from Health Funds (NB: most end March 31!)

PROVIDER OFFER FOR NEW CUSTOMERS T&C’S END DATE
GMHBA & Budget Direct* 6 Weeks Free when joining with Hospital & Extras cover More info 31/3
Qantas Up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points for combining Top Hospital with any Extras. More info 6/4
NIB $200 Virtual Visa eGift Card when you join any combined Hospital + Extras package online More info 31/3
ahm Any 2 & 6 month waits waived on extras, and 1 month free when you take out Hospital & Extras More info 31/3
Medibank Join combined Hospital & Extras cover and the 2 & 6 month waiting periods on extras will be waived. Plus, you’ll get your second month free. (Use promo code ‘MARCH18’.) More info NIL
AAMI $200 Cashback on new combined Hospital & Extras More Info 30/4
* 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.