Sponsored All the ways health insurance is changing by April 1 and how you can save
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All the ways health insurance is changing by April 1 and how you can save

It's the biggest overhaul in years. Are you ready for it? Photo: Getty
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Health insurance is changing again in 2019. In fact, it’s the biggest overhaul of the industry in years.

You’ll need to know what’s happening to make sure you’re still getting a great deal. To help, we’ve put together this cheat sheet that explains the changes and what they will mean for you.

1. The most important date for your calendar is still April 1

It’s Australia’s least favourite April Fool’s joke – the yearly premium increase. While the increase has been smaller in recent years (3.95 per cent in 2018), there’s nothing to indicate that the cost of your premium will do anything but rise in 2019.

What you can do: Your best bet is to review your options before April 1 rolls around. This can save you in two ways.

First, you might simply find a cheaper fund.

Second, you can double down on those savings by paying your premium for the coming year in advance.

This means that you can lock in the premium price for 2018 before the rate rise kicks in for 2019, effectively bypassing it altogether.

Here’s how we can help:

Step 1: Select your current life stage below.

Step 2: Once you select your preferred coverage options, you will have the opportunity to compare quotes from multiple health funds.

2. Gold, silver, bronze, basic: The tiered system explained

From April 1, all hospital cover products will be categorised into four tiers.

These tiers are determined by what procedures the policy covers. The higher the tier, the more procedures covered.

This change will apply only to hospital cover. Your extras/ancillary cover won’t be affected.

Insurers will still be able to offer policies that fall outside the tiers, so this change won’t completely standardise hospital cover.

The policies that fall outside the tiers will be categorised as silver, bronze or basic-plus. That means you might end up finding you can downgrade from a gold to a silver-plus policy and get better value.

It won’t take the thought out of comparing, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

What it means for you: First, your current policy might actually change slightly to fit into a category. The far more likely outcome, however, is that it will simply be given a new label.

Ideally, this category will give you a better idea of what level of cover will best suit your needs.

Perhaps the best thing it will do is bring gynaecological services, ovarian and breast cancer treatment, and breast reconstruction into lower (and less expensive) tiers of hospital cover. That will make getting cover for these treatments much more affordable.

3. Ongoing discounts for the young

Unless you’re under 30, sadly this one isn’t for you. From April 1, health insurers will be able to offer premium discounts on hospital cover (not extras).

Here’s a chance to make Hospital Cover that little bit more affordable.

They can offer 2 per cent for each year that a person is aged under 30 at the time they first purchase hospital cover. The maximum saving is 10 per cent, which would be for someone taking out hospital cover at 25.

It’s a discount that can be maintained until a person turns 41, or changes their policy.

What it means for you: If you’re 30 or older, this one won’t affect your premiums, but it might help someone you know.

For the young, it’s a chance to make hospital cover that little bit more affordable, and to lock in a discount for a long time.

4. Quick fire round! No cover for natural therapies, more excess, accommodation benefits from April 1

Alternative therapies that aren’t backed by medical evidence will no longer be covered by health insurers. Sixteen therapies will be removed from extras policies, including aromatherapy, naturopathy, Pilates, yoga and homeopathy. You can find the full list here.

If you’re willing to cop a higher excess if you need to go to hospital, you will be able to reduce your hospital cover premium.

Just be aware that if you do need to go to hospital, you will have to pay more upfront. This cost can come on top of out-of-pocket costs from your medical professional.

Finally, if you live in rural or regional Australia, certain hospital policies will now subsidise travel and accommodation costs, especially if you must travel to get your treatment.

That’s it. How did you do? We hope this list has helped you out.

If it’s prompted any questions for you, we’d love for you to come compare health insurance with us and see what you could save.

We’re more than happy to explain your options and direct you towards the cover that best suits your situation.

A final word on how you can stay in control of your cover. Know that if you do decide to switch cover, you won’t have to resit your waiting periods unless you’re moving to a higher tier of cover. Otherwise they will carry over to your new cover.

It’s also good to know that there are no lock-in contracts with health insurance. You’re always free to switch to cover that suits you better.

Your current insurer will do their absolute best to keep you, but there’s nothing stopping you moving to a better deal.