Even if you do not need surgery, for some it is a “just in case” or “safety first” measure.
The biggest problem is that the cost of private health cover continues to head north.
Even with the maximum government rebate, a “gold” hospital and extras policy for a family now costs about $5000-$6000 a year.
Many health insurers were great for pausing a 2.92 per cent health insurance price hike due last April until October, particularly for people in financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
However, there will be another 2.74 per cent rise this April. Although this is the smallest increase in 20 years, there is no escaping the fact that households are copping two price rises in six months, coming off the back of an economic recession.
If you look at the combined impact of the two premium increases, the average HIF customer is facing a 9.3 per cent rise over six months while customers of the big-four health funds – NIB, Medibank, BUPA and HCF – have faced rises ranging from 6.34 per cent to 7.26 per cent.
HBF customers had the best deal, with a 2.92 per cent April hike, because it was the only major fund that did not increase premiums in October.
So, what can you do about the price increase? I have put together a three-step “premium price-check” to help policyholders minimise the fast-growing cost.
Price-check your increase
There are a broad range of health fund rises this year, from just 0.5 per cent (St Lukes Health) to 5.47 per cent (CBHS Corporate), with HCF, BUPA, Medibank and NIB ranging between 2.95 per cent and 4.36 per cent, on average.
However, averages can hide a multitude of sins, so check your individual hike when you receive it. If it is too high, be prepared to move.
Compare your premium
It has never been easier to compare your premium with other heath insurance providers, thanks to a system of “gold, silver, bronze and basic” categories introduced two years ago.
To compare your premium, simply get a quote on a policy in the same category. You might also be able to get a bonus for switching providers, such as four to six weeks’ free, or up to $400 cash back.
If you do decide to stay with your current provider, pay your annual premium before April 1 – if you can afford it. This means you will pay the current price – not the new, higher price – thereby postponing any increase for another 12 months.
Just 5 per cent of Australians switch health funds each year because it looks too hard, but there are all sorts of consumer protections to make the task easier. For example, you can take any waiting periods you have served with you, just like a portable mobile phone number.
This is the best time of year to get a better health insurance deal – either by asking your current fund, or from a new fund – so make the most of it.
Six-month health fund price hikes
- HIF 9.36%
- NIB 7.26%
- Medibank 6.52%
- BUPA 6.47%
- HCF 6.34%
- HBF 2.92%
Source: Department of Health