Switching health funds best way to save bucks

Health check your own insurance before end of financial year

A review of more than 17,000 health insurance policies by CHOICE has found families could save more than $1500 by switching to a better value fund.

The people’s watchdog says switching remains the single best move cost conscious Australians can make to save with their health insurance.

In one case CHOICE found savings between $559 and $1529 per annum could be made on top hospital cover with no excess. A saving of up to $1320 a year on top extras cover could also be made.

“It’s very tempting to stay with the same fund. However, there are savings of $50 to $100 a month for families willing to switch,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.

Australians can also get better comprehensive cover by purchasing separate hospital and extras, rather than combining them in one policy.

“Buying combined health insurance may seem like an easy option, but separating hospital and extras can save money as well as ensuring the best possible cover,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE says health insurance companies make a lot of money when people take out extras cover without making claims. The people’s watchdog says that, if you have extras, make sure you are using them and getting back a good portion of your monthly premium.

In CHOICE’s annual review of health insurance policies, undertaken to find the best value cover on the market, each of the major health funds and many of the smaller providers were assessed.

When choosing Health Insurance CHOICE advises:

Avoid paying extra
• Decide whether you need extras cover. Compare what you pay to what you get back. It may be better to open your own high-interest ‘extras savings account’ to put money aside for essentials like dentistry.

Lighten the load
• If you have turned 31 in the last financial year, consider hospital cover. Without it you may have to pay a loading on your premium, which grows by 2% per year.

Hospital agreement
• Before buying health insurance, check there is an agreement in place that will allow you to reduce out-of-pocket hospital costs to avoid expensive gap payments.

Eye on Ambulance
• Ambulance is provided automatically in Qld and Tasmania, and some states have pensioner concessions. Otherwise, you can access your ambulance cover though health insurance or pay in the event of an accident. However, check the level of cover as some funds only offer emergency ambulance. They may not include air ambulance or transfer between hospitals (for example, from public to private).

• Comparison sites
Many online health insurance comparison sites have financial relationships with the products they sell either through advertising or pay per acquisition arrangements. However you can compare policies using the government’s free private health online comparison service at www.privatehealth.gov.au

Media contact:
• Ingrid Just, CHOICE spokesperson: 0430 172 669

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