10.How to switch
Health funds often claim it’s easy to switch. But switching can be stressful if things go wrong.
If your new fund doesn’t receive the necessary paperwork in time, additional costs may apply. Or worse, there may be a gap in membership, leaving you without any private cover and liable to pay a part of the Medicare levy surcharge. Use our tips (below) to avoid the potential traps.
Steps to complete when switching funds:
- Get a detailed quote, check applicable government rebate, discounts and Lifetime Cover loading.
- Apply for cover with the new fund.
- Ask the new fund to commence its cover only when the old cover is cancelled.
- Request a clearance certificate (shows membership level and Lifetime Cover status) and an itemised claims statement from your old fund.
- Keep a copy of both statements and send them to the new fund.
- Arrange cancellation of your old cover yourself.
- Check your bank statement to make sure membership has commenced with the new fund and there's no overlap.
- If you pay via direct debit, cancel this with the old fund and advise your bank of the cancellation.
- Health funds may offer special incentives such as free cover for a period of time. Ask the fund you'd like to join if it has any special offers or is prepared to match an offer from another fund.
- Some health funds reward long-term members with special bonuses such as a higher claims limit for extras treatments. If you're entitled to these bonuses with your old fund, ask your new fund whether it is prepared to match the deal.
If all else fails, try the Ombudsman
If you have a complaint about your health insurance fund that you can’t resolve with the fund, contact the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman on 1800 640 695 or www.phio.org.au.
The website also offers information about health funds, and allows you to order a free booklet about how to switch companies, called The Right to Change.