Most Australians could be paying too much for their private health insurance, with a consumer survey revealing there are thousands of dollars in savings to be made.
According to the Private Health Insurance Administration Council 47 per cent of Australians already insure their health. But according to a study by consumer group CHOICE, families could save up to $1852 on health insurance per year by picking the right policy, with savings also available to couples and singles.
Australian tax payers spend two per cent of their income on Medicare, but under controversial federal budget measures health care may no longer be “free” with a $7 GP co-payment.
And if you earn above $90,000 you’ll have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge – meaning a basic coverage might actually be cheaper.
So if you want to save on health, you might want to do it yourself. Here are the simple steps you can use to put money back in your pocket when choosing the right health insurance policy.
There is a lot of competition in the health insurance area at the moment. By calling and asking your provider for a better deal, or suggesting you are planning to switch funds, you might be able to save.
Know what care you need
Tom Godfrey, spokesperson from CHOICE, says to know what medical care you, or your family needs to avoid costly premiums and extra costs on insurance policies. You can change your policy to adapt to your circumstances, for example if you are planning to have a baby.
Ask yourself the following questions to help you understand what it is you need on your policy:
• Will I, or my family, need dental, optical, chiropractic, or any other medical service not provided under Medicare within the next 12-months?
• Will I, or my family, need some form on non-elective (not life threatening) surgery within the next 12-months?
• Do I want to choose my doctor and hospital which I need care at?
Ask if you can increase your excess and co-payments
Jodi Bird, a financial specialist with CHOICE, says if you can get your excess and co-payments up it will help you to reduce your premium costs, while maintaining a higher level of cover.
Ms Bird also said to keep excess costs to $1000 for a family or couple so you can still be eligible for the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS).
Don’t pay extra
By adding the costs of extras like dental, physiotherapy or optical, and deducting them from your premiums, you can see how much value you’re getting really for the cost of all the extras.
If you’re paying more than you like for extras through premiums, and your insurance company is not sufficiently providing enough coverage, it’s time find a better deal.
Luke Fishley, general manager product for Medibank, says choosing a higher level of coverage means you can claim back more from your insurance provider.
It also provides you with more treatments and services, which all transfers into more opportunity to make a claim.
With this, it’s important to note that you need to be careful and choose the right coverage for you and to not assume that just because you get more, you save more.
Look for health insurance providers which have an agreement with a health provider or a hospital to help to keep the out-of-pocket cost down for the consumer. These type of deals will cover some of the expenses incurred through hospital visits and care.
Don’t get stuck waiting
When it comes to private health insurance, the waiting period is the time that consumers need to receive benefits after you take out your cover.
By knowing this, it will allow you to be able to know exactly when you can start claiming and getting money back on your policies.
Use comparison websites
Use CHOICE and other comparison websites (including iSelect, Choosi, Help Me Choose and Compare Health) to compare policies to get the best deal.