Victorians are paying up to 25 per cent more for health insurance than other states or territories, according to new comparison data.
While costs alone would be a sore point for Victorians, the knockout blow comes from the fact they haven’t been able to use most of the benefits and extras during pandemic lockdowns.
New data from Compare Club reveals that Victorian residents are slugged with the highest health insurance premiums over the course of a year, paying up to $1500 more for cover.
Young Victorian families pay 6 per cent more than the national average, while couples over 50 are paying 10 per cent more than the national average. Older singles pay 9.5 per cent more and younger singles 6.5 per cent more.
Compare Club state monthly averages using Bronze hospital cover data for young families and young singles and Silver hospital cover for over 50s as per the most popular coverage choices within those demographics
The disparity between the states is particularly striking for Victorians who spent a significant portion of 2020 and 2021 in lockdown and weren’t able to use many of their health insurance services, says Compare Club co-CEO Andrew Davis.
“For those in Victoria who have been paying for private health insurance over the past two years it’s very likely they haven’t been able to access many of the services they’re paying for. During lockdown and as hospitals deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many surgeries and treatments were on hold and Victorian policy holders wouldn’t have been able to maximise the benefits of their extras,” says Mr Davis.
“Following the lockdowns, we’re entering a very interesting time for health insurance. HCF, the third-largest fund, recently informed its members it will be delaying premium increases in 2022 from 1 April to 1 November; some other funds have instead returned cash to members. So, it’s a great time to look at what different providers are offering and where the savings are.
“One thing we know for sure is that all health insurance isn’t created equal and there are a lot of opportunities for savings if you can make time to talk to an expert.”
Western Australia is the cheapest state for health insurance. Young families in WA pay 10 per cent less than the national average, couples over 50 and older singles 11 per cent less and young singles 12.5 per cent less.
The differences between the states are a result of several factors.
“In general, private hospital usage in Queensland and Victoria is higher relative to the population,” says Mr Davis.
“For people looking to keep their premiums down, it’s important to look at what you really need. Gold policies will include features like IVF, pregnancy and weight loss, but if these aren’t relevant to your lifestyle you can save money by considering a Silver policy that still offers a high level of cover, but typically not IVF, pregnancy and weight loss surgery.”
One way to find cheaper health cover is to move interstate, but for those who prefer a practical solution, Mr Davis says there are still savings to be found between the most expensive cover and the cheapest in each category.
When comparing the same policies across seven providers, the average Australian could cut costs by more than 18 per cent just by switching providers. In some cases, this was as much as $85 a month between the most expensive and cheapest provider, according to Compare Club data.
“Private health insurance is proving to be particularly important for Australians at the moment as the healthcare systems are pushed to their limits and patients are facing long wait times in public hospitals, but that shouldn’t mean you have to overpay for cover,” says Mr Davis.
People can find savings on their health cover by assessing their extras, says Mr Davis.
“While most people will need dental cover, not everyone needs additional items like podiatry or hearing aids,” he says.
“When changing funds, you should look at what agreements your chosen provider has. For regional or rural Australians who may not have access to a number of different hospitals or preferred extras providers, it’s good to check that your closest options are covered under your new fund.
“Selecting a policy isn’t always easy and you need to make sure you check the fine print. Consumers often get caught out with things like gap fee agreements and what can look like a good deal on the surface isn’t always as good as it seems. There are lots of savings to be found if you know where to look, but at the end of the day getting the right care for your life stage and individual circumstances is the most important factor.”
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