Health insurance premiums on the rise

From 1 April 2016, private health insurance premiums will rise

temperature rising on a thermometer surrounded by pills

From 1 April 2016, private health insurance premiums will rise and, if previous year are anything to go by, we could be looking at an average increase of over six per cent. This rise may make many Australians question their level of cover, or the need for private health insurance altogether. While most of us know it pays to review our private health insurance annually, not knowing where to start can mean we often just roll over our policy.

For those who need to save on their premiums, why not consider the following?

Extras or ancillary cover

While nice to have, this is often where we are paying for things we don’t really need. To have a fair comparison between policies, make a list of the services you used in the last two years and the value of your rebate. Check that the policies you’re considering cover these services and find out if there’s a waiting period, or whether your new insurer will waive any such requirement.

Don’t forget to check the annual limits, whether they increase over time, and if there is a lifetime limit, which can often be the case on services such as major dental and orthodontics.

Another consideration is the relatively new offering of a ‘use as you wish’ allowance – where you have a limit of around $1500 to spend on any extras you choose. As you would imagine, while this is more flexible, it’s often more expensive.

If you have any loyalty bonuses, such as high benefits, these are generally not transferable. So consider the value of these before switching.

Remember, if you only have private health insurance to save on the Medicare Levy Surcharge, having extras cover makes no difference. So consider whether you need it.

Hospital cover

It is important that this is set at the correct level for your age and life stage. Many people simply continue with the same cover, not realising that it covers pregnancy and assistive reproduction, when joint replacement and heart disease may be more crucial.

Another area people often get caught on is assuming they have full private cover when staying overnight in hospital. While you may have the option to choose your hospital and specialist, you may only be covered for a stay in a communal ward rather than a private room.

If you’re using your policy to avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge, your policy must have a low excess that is equal to or less than $500 per annum for singles and $1000 per annum for couples.

Also, if you have a pre-existing condition that is covered by your current insurer, switching policies may result in this condition being excluded from your policy.

Make your private health insurance work for you

Making health insurance more affordable doesn’t have to mean reducing levels of cover. If you are concerned about developing certain conditions, or just being covered in general, you may wish to consider a higher excess rather than going without cover.

Ensure your premiums are up to date. Being more than two months behind can mean you’ll be no longer covered, and your bills won’t be paid.

If you have to go into hospital, or are referred to a specialist by your GP, ask for the corresponding item codes for the proposed services, and check with your insurer if you are covered and what level of benefit will be paid.

Before you make any decisions on whether or not to continue with private health insurance, shop around for the best deal and consider carefully the consequences of having no cover at all.

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    COMMENTS

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    tia-maria
    1st Mar 2016
    10:12am
    When is the increase in Health Insurance going to stop????...........Our Politicians are so bloody greedy and heartless to say the least.............early days if you were in a fund it covered you for everything........not today society and many of us retired pensioners don't need what they put on offer for us...........totally unfair.........and don't forget ......The LEVI our Politicians put on a Health fund joining after year 2001........and that guys is a massive slug in the guts to say the least.........if they cut this Levi out many people would survive doing a fund........How can we get our Politicians to rethink about the retired pensioners and DROP THE LEVI to give us a fair go.
    Idontforget
    1st Mar 2016
    10:59am
    The health insurance levy is there to prevent people that know they have an ailment coming on from then joining a fund and taking advantage of the monies other people had been paying in all their life.
    KSS
    1st Mar 2016
    1:51pm
    tia-maria when the levy was introduced, anyone over the age of 31 and not already in a health fund was given an opportunity to join without ever having to pay the extra 2% per year levy as long as they remained in a fund. You didn't/don't have to stay in the same fund but can change as and when you want. This makes those people on the same cost level as everyone else.

    The levy is there to encourage people into a fund before they turn 31 and then remain there. Idontforget is right too. It also stops people opting in for expensive conditions and illnesses and opting out after they have been treated thereby forcing those in a fund long term to subsidise their treatment for a relatively small sum.

    I don't see the levy as much of an issue. The real issue is that premiums keep going up (and faster in the older age groups) and more and more conditions are being excluded from cover. So health insurance is costing more and covering less each year.
    tia-maria
    1st Mar 2016
    2:36pm
    idontforget, not really mate its a greedy government rip off......if you your in a fund and you know that you have a pre-assisting medical condition there fore you need to wait 12 months before that operation.........
    tia-maria
    1st Mar 2016
    2:40pm
    Hi KSS I was in a fund most of my life and unfortunately when I pulled out in 1999 and did not join for years later I am paying this high levy and yes its much higher....... than friends of mine who were able to keep in a fund........and its a rip off by our politicians cheers
    Anonymous
    1st Mar 2016
    9:16pm
    I opted out of a fund when I went through a very tough period in my life. Now I can't afford to re-join even if I wanted to. There are many who might join if they could, but the high levy keeps them out. I understand the logic behind it, but you can't get cover for a pre-existing condition anyway, so it's not locking out people who find out they have an illness and then go and join. It's just locking out battlers who've had it tough and couldn't afford insurance, but are now in a better position. And that's dumb!

    That said, I wouldn't join if I could. There's no value. When insured at the highest rate, I had 3 operations. Two, in private hospitals, incurred thousands in gap costs and the treatment was appalling. The third, in a public hospital, was free and provided first class treatment. Sorry, I'm not paying top dollar for poor quality care just because I paid for health insurance!
    marty
    1st Mar 2016
    10:20am
    What happened to the Health Minister 'looking into' the proposed premium increase ?
    MICK
    1st Mar 2016
    12:31pm
    Maybe paid off.
    nena
    1st Mar 2016
    12:47pm
    More like that the HM is looking the long run consequences into her own interests...if...not allowing such highly disproportionate increases.
    nena
    1st Mar 2016
    11:49am
    Any rational human being would believe and expect that: Health covers Insurances, among other vital human’s needs organizations, should be there firstly to support the member’s needs at a minimal cost to them and then…if any profit left on the side should go to the shareholders. However, we live in a planet where the priority of thinks is always greediness supported by the politicians of the time in the first place.
    MICK
    1st Mar 2016
    12:03pm
    Inflation around 2%...but health insurance premiums rise about 6% EVERY YEAR. No government action to stop this no matter which side is in power.
    One needs to ask why the government cannot run a medical system rather than hand it to the private sector which increases premiums and probably CEO and director remunerations.
    Perhaps time people left these casinos.
    peedee
    1st Mar 2016
    1:46pm
    And Goldie wants to raise it another 30% by dropping the 30% rebate. If you think 6% will make people reconsider what do you reckon another 30% would do. Maybe another industry that will be decimated by the so called " thinkers".
    KSS
    1st Mar 2016
    1:54pm
    But Peedee, surely its only the 'rich' who pay for private health insurance so surely they don't need the Government 'welfare for the wealthy'!

    (tongue firmly in cheek)
    roy
    1st Mar 2016
    2:05pm
    Thinkers or stinkers?
    Dors
    1st Mar 2016
    2:21pm
    What is really annoying is that when you do go to a Doctor/Specialist and have to go to Hospital you are up for "out of pocket expenses". These expenses are the killers. You do the right thing get Private health and you may not have a lot of money but then everyone expects you have lost a money. I had to have a Barium X-ray recently and the only service that does this X-ray where I live charge $340 and you get $80 back from medicare.

    1st Mar 2016
    4:57pm
    This is a lot of crap and the truth has to be put out there for all to see. Last year my health fund trumpeted that it was increasing by a "mere" 6.75% which was well above the CPI figure. My actual increase, that is the amount I have to pay rose by 16.74%. When I queried this amount I was hit by an unbelievable barrage of facts and figures telling me that I had it all wrong.

    They claimed that their lowest increase was 2% and the highest was 15% for a few members. Even given these figures, the average from low to high is 8.5% but my maths were wrong again apparently. I had not taken the government rebate into the equation according to my health fund and when this was considered, I had actually had an increase of 13.74%. It is noted that my increase, according to them is still more than double the advertised increase.

    What we need from firstly the health funds and secondly the politicians is transparency. We should be told how much the lowest increase is as well as the highest by a percentage of the increase against what is actually paid by the member. We don't need the truth hidden behind a set of figures prepared by a statistician which, although factually correct, are misleading at best and lies at worst.
    Anonymous
    4th Mar 2016
    12:29pm
    Testing.
    Sampancho
    1st Mar 2016
    6:43pm
    We are being ripped off big time. Private Health Funds are making record profits and they still want to slug us with yet another increase in premiums from April 1.
    The whole system stinks and the Government lets it happen.
    Anonymous
    1st Mar 2016
    8:13pm
    I agree Sampancho but let's not get too political here. Successive governments over many years have all caved in to the health care lobbyists.
    jeffr
    1st Mar 2016
    11:19pm
    Come on you lot....get your private health cover, think of the poor old share holders...said with tongue in cheek. By the way, I opted out, one week later my wife was diagnosed with a tumor in her lung. Public Health treatment straight away and you guessed it, we have saved $1200 on Medibank fees over the last three months and only paid out $123.
    Anonymous
    2nd Mar 2016
    9:52pm
    Wow jeffr. Is that all you saved? I opted out after two surgical procedures cost over $5000 in out of pocket costs, and the standard of care was appallingly bad. One similar procedure in a public hospital cost $0 and the care was brilliant. As soon as anyone says they have private cover, up go the charges! You are paying for the privilege of paying more, it seems!
    jeffr
    3rd Mar 2016
    12:52am
    Hi Rainey, $1,200 not spent on private health, terrific service and the best treatment for my wife at No Cost. and the $123 payment for the difference between Medicare and the specialist fees. The more people that get out of the Rip-Off private medical funds I honestly believe we would all have a better Public Health Service.
    Julian
    2nd Mar 2016
    2:05pm
    Another government joke.

    Lasts year, mine jumped 23% not 6%!! How is that regulation?

    I've been on extras only in the past years. This came about from a previous visit to a urologist to get the nick. Whilst on hospital cover, my fund advised that I would not be covered for any of the procedure, even though I was going to hospital. I rang the fund again and asked them why ?. An intelligent reply was not provided. I relegated myself to extras only and went on the waiting list. 5 months later, the procedure was done completely under medicare, for which i still pay for.

    Next increase, I will be shopping around again.
    retroy
    3rd Mar 2016
    12:55pm
    I thought I had the right cover and heeded all the advice from Bupa about going to the aligned private hospital partners, only to discover when my wife had suspected heart problem that there was a whole list of extras that they refused to pay for.
    When I complained about the poor deal after following their written advice, they gave me new advice over the phone which was designed to rip off the public system.
    So after being with the same insurer for 35 years and never a hospital claim they basically ripped us off.
    Dors
    3rd Mar 2016
    1:38pm
    what didn't they cover?

    I have recently had a few visits in the last year to Hospital and BUPA covered 100% of hospital cover - the stinger was the out of pocket expenses from the surgeons and anaesthetist. which i am still paying off.
    older&wiser
    3rd Mar 2016
    6:49pm
    Only this morning I found how absolutely ludicrous this mess with Health Insurance is. I had to go and book in for a day procedure at local hospital. Date has already been set. She asked me - 'are you coming in as a private or public patient?' I asked what the difference was. If I come in as a public patient, I don't pay anything. If I come in as a private patient, I have to pay for it. Now to me, that's a no brainer. WHY on earth would you have it done as a Private patient if the only difference is how much you end up paying? Absolutely NO difference in treatment, and care. Of course I said Public. What the hell is Private Health Insurance for if the only reason is that you end up PAYING for a procedure, as opposed to having it done for free?
    ex PS
    4th Mar 2016
    1:33pm
    I've done a cost annalysis on my coverage and have come to the conclusion that it is longer to my advantage to keep paying the premiums. For the amount I have cliamed over the last twenty years I am better off self insuring.
    This is what we get when we turn the medical management of the country overto private enterprise.
    Think twice before you elect a government that wants to privatise services that it normally provides, it always ends up costing more.
    Not Senile Yet!
    4th Mar 2016
    11:42pm
    To all those that keep voting into OUR Parliament.....the Party Puppets.....
    The Parties are run by the Caucus.....which is not elected into Parliament.....which makes all policy to suit the Party.....not the people!!!!
    SO WHY ARE YOU VOTING FOR PUPPETS??????
    The Party tells the Puppets that Self Regulation is CHEAPER....saves on Tax Expenditure!!!!
    What they do NOT Tell them is that Self Regulation is a licence to PRINT MONEY!!!!!
    Stop voting Puppets into the Parliament!!!!
    1. Pick and Independent in your area
    2. Put him/her at No 1.
    3. Then take the Party Donkey How to Vote Card for the Party that you LEAST WANT in and reverse every number on it leaving out the last number!
    4. What will this do????
    It will cause a massive swing against the Parties....who control MP Puppets!!!!
    Plus if enough do this....Both Major Parties will be facing a massive Revolt via Preferences against them!!!!
    Will it fix the problems???? NO it might not!
    But what it will do is this.....send a message to ALL Parties that we the voters are sick to death of ALL their Lies and False Electoral Promises......plus let them know that Party Policy and telling MP's how to vote IS ALSO A FORM OF CORRUPTION that we DO NOT WANT!!!
    As per the Private Health ........if you are Paying for it......you should have full cover for your premium.....no excess....no gaps!!!
    If the Government stepped in and regulated it....only CPI increases would be allowed!!!
    Not Senile Yet!
    4th Mar 2016
    11:51pm
    Added comment about the penalty for NOT having Private Health Insurance!
    This is simply far too strict and inflexible!!!
    Should a person be forced to opt out through No Fault of their own....ie loss of employment or ill health, family tragedy etc. Then NO Penalty should apply provided they previously had and paid their premiums!
    Those who have had long gaps..ie excess of 5 years...then a formula should be devised where their previous years membership counts and lessens the Penalty.....not completely but appropriately!!!
    This can be done because all Health Funds do answer to the Government!
    Trouble is that the Current Government MP's are all Puppets....no voice of their own....therefore no challenge to anything that is unfair.


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