8 July 2014
A CHOICE review of health insurance has found consumers across the country can save $1400 on average on their premiums by selecting the right Top Hospital cover.
Following the 6.2% premium hike on 1 April this year and the changes to the private health insurance rebate; private health insurance is becoming increasingly costly for Australian consumers.
“Our review found consumers in all states and territories can make significant savings by selecting the right Top Hospital cover. Whether you opt for a $0 excess or $1000, you can reduce your premium pain significantly,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
“While you might be tempted to downgrade your level of health cover when higher premiums start to hit home on the family budget, you’re much better off finding the best value top cover policy and maintaining the coverage your family needs.”
“Trying to select the right policy can be a confusing experience, which leaves many consumers reluctant to switch providers. Our review has found that if you take the time to compare the value between policies, you can make real savings without cutting back on the cover you need.
”Understanding which type of cover is right for you and your family’s circumstances, you could end up better off.”
Hospital insurance tips
When weighing up whether you need hospital insurance, consider:
- If you earn less than $90k, the only financial incentive for taking out hospital cover is that you will have to pay the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading if you take out hospital cover in future, if you’re 31 or older (if you earn $90k or more, taking out at least basic hospital cover can cost you less than paying the extra Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)).
- The public hospital system serves people who require emergency surgery well.
- For more complex and expensive medical conditions, you'll often end up in a public hospital regardless of whether you have private hospital insurance or not, because public hospitals have the equipment.
- But, if you need elective surgery, such as cataract eye surgery or a hip replacement, private hospital insurance can be a good idea because it allows you to jump the waiting list, choose your own doctor and get treatment in a private hospital, which can be more comfortable.
 The saving is calculated using the cheapest CHOICE Best Buy in each State or Territory. It compares like-for-like policies in each state.
 From 1 July 2014 Australians who earn more than $90,000 (single) or $180,000 (couple/family) are ineligible for the full 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate.
 Since means testing was introduced for private health insurance rebate on 11 July 2012, Insurers have told CHOICE they’re seeing a trend in customers downgrading their level of cover to accommodate increased costs. CHOICE, June 2013, p16