Think cover first, health insurer second. Tips on figuring out what’s important to you before you pick a fund [read]
Private health insurance safeguards you financially in the event you need healthcare in the private system. But how do you find the best health insurance for you?
Everybody’s health needs are different, so there’s no such thing as the ‘best health insurance’ overall. But once you’ve found cover that suits your health needs, the next step is ensuring that it is cost-effective. How do you ensure that you get the best value? Here are our tips on how to save money on your health insurance cover and get more in return.
1. Take out cover before your 31st birthday
By taking out private hospital cover before you turn 31 years old, you can avoid paying the government’s Lifetime Health Cover loading fee. If you leave it until after 1st July following your 31st birthday, you may be required to pay an additional 2% on your premium for every year you delay it. The Lifetime Health Cover loading lasts for 10 years and can be up to 70%, so it’s worth avoiding.
2. Choose a cover that suits your personal needs and situation
Think back to when you first took out health insurance. If it was more than 18 months ago, chances are your circumstances have changed. Do you still need top dental cover in your extras package? Maybe you’ve finished having children and don’t need pregnancy cover anymore. Or perhaps the opposite is the case, and you know you’re going to need major dental or start a family in the next few years. The best health insurance for you 18 months ago might not be the same as it is now.
Work with your health fund (or the Members Own team) to review your cover regularly and choose a policy that suits your current personal situation. Whether this saves you money in premiums or ensures that you’re prepared for the future, you’ll be more satisfied with your health insurance.
3. Consider increasing your hospital excess
Most hospital policies offer a choice of excess per hospital admission, for example $0, $250 and $500 excess. If you’re able to afford a higher excess when the time comes to use your cover, you can benefit from lower premiums in the meantime.
4. Pay your premium annually
Like most insurers, health funds will sometimes offer a discount if you pay your annual premium in one go. Furthermore, premiums usually rise on April 1, but if you pay your annual premium before 31st March you can lock in the next 12 months’ cover at the old price. This will delay any increase in premiums for 12 months, giving you significant savings.
5. Set up direct debit payments
Look into any discounts your fund offers if you opt to pay your premiums by regular direct debit, instead of in person at a branch or at an outlet like Australia Post. Some funds will offer up to 4% discount if you pay by direct debit.
6. Use your fund’s approved providers
Many health funds have an approved list of health providers that offer ‘gap free’ medical treatment. By using one of these approved or agreed providers, you may be able to save on some out-of-pocket expenses or even avoid them altogether. This is a big one when it comes to value for money and getting the best health insurance value. Your health fund will be happy to help you understand this system and point you in the right direction.
7. Join a not-for-profit or member-owned fund
Members Own’s not-for-profit/mutual health funds have, for the past five years, returned a higher percentage of premiums to their members in benefits than the well-known for-profit funds Medibank/ahm, Bupa and NIB. Although this fact doesn’t have a direct, measurable impact on your personal insurance premium, you can sleep at night knowing that your not-for-profit fund is working solely for its members, not trying to make money from your premiums to pay dividends to investors or overseas owners.
8. Find out whether you’re eligible for a restricted membership fund
Restricted health insurance funds, which offer cover only to employees of specific industries and their families, sometimes offer cheaper policies than funds open to all members. Remember that price isn’t everything though, and you should consider the other benefits that a fund offers and what’s covered by a policy just as carefully as the price.
9. Compare policies and figure out the value for money from your perspective
The best way to ensure you’re getting the best combination of price and benefits is to compare polices and shop around. To save on time, you can use our online comparison service to do most of the work for you. Or just give us a call, and we’ll find the best health cover for you from our panel of not-for-profit/mutual health funds.