healthinsurance

Did you know that health insurance premiums will increase by 6.2% on 1 April, 2014? If you’re worried you’ll have to rethink your household budget simply to afford the hike – you’re not alone. In fact, 50 per cent of Australians admit that they will have to cut basic household expenses to cover the cost. And around 40 per cent say they would shop around for a new policy.

With premiums increasing from every health fund, now is the time to asses your existing policies or shop around for another to ensure you receive the best deal.

Comparethemarket.com.au shares six tips for managing private health insurance costs:

1. Remember to claim
The cost of your private health insurance overall is a balance between the premium and your potential returns through claims. You must claim to ensure your return on investment, particularly with Extras policies. When making a booking with your healthcare provider, check they offer HICAPS – this gives you an immediate claim. The risk of claiming at a later date is you might forget altogether – which we think many do.

2. Know a policy’s returns in potential claims before buying
When speaking with policy holders, we find most people forget what they’re insured for and what amount they can claim back. For these, the cost of private healthcare becomes a liability, not a benefit. You cannot buy private health insurance and file it away. When assessing the value of a policy, know the services you claimed for in the last 12 months, how often you claimed, your spend on health services which you didn’t or couldn’t claim for, and any new services you might want to claim for in the following year.

3. Take advantage of discounts. Some funds will discount premiums by 4 per cent for direct debit payments, while others will discount by 4 per cent for annual payments and 2 per cent for bi-annual payments.

4. Look out for promotions. Some health insurers will offer the first month of cover for free for a limited time, while others may offer vouchers of up to $200 if you refer a new member.

5. Switch and receive a refund from your old policy. Many people don’t know that if they switch suppliers, their old policy will refund any premiums paid in advance. The new policy will start the day after the old policy ceases.

6. Have someone support you to compare. With more than 13,000 health insurance policies available for comparison on comparethemarket.com.au/health-insurance alone, choosing the most suitable policy and knowing how to maximise the benefits can be daunting. Choose a free service that provides a range of customer supports (such as online chat, phone and email support) to help you find the best policy to suit your needs.

Will you stay with the same health insurance provider or switch to a new one this year?