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Beat the unhealthy price hike

CHOICE says there's still time to save on health insurance

With just 48 hours to go before the private health insurance price hike hits, CHOICE is encouraging consumers to assess their insurance needs, compare policies if necessary and take advantage of the savings available to beat the additional premium pain.  

"With premiums increasing 4.84% on average on 1 April, it's time to act to help ensure you make the best decision for you and your family when it comes to private health insurance," says CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey. 

"Whether taking out cover or reconsidering an existing policy, we want all consumers to take advantage of the tips, tools and services available to help navigate this complex market."

Pre-April 1 checklist and tips:

Hospital cover

1. Take CHOICE's free DoINeedHealthInsurance.com.au health check to see if you need private hospital cover. 
2. If you decide you need cover, use a genuinely unbiased and comprehensive comparison site such as choice.com.au or privatehealth.gov.au to compare policies.
3. Although pricey, a top level cover policy with an excess will give you the most peace of mind.
4. Don't be tempted to downgrade to a "junk" policy. Although cheaper, you'll end up paying hundreds in premiums and still won't be covered for many common treatments. 

Extras cover

1. Ask your insurer for an annual claims statement. If you are paying more in premiums than you are receiving in benefits you might want to reassess your coverage.  
2. There is no tax incentive for taking out extras cover. Extras cover is effectively a budgeting tool. 
3. If you are just using extras cover for a couple of trips to the dentist each year, you're most likely not getting great value.
4. If you decide you don't need extras cover, it's worth considering setting up a savings account and banking the same amount you would have paid in premiums.
5. Get your insurer on the phone and ask them what your actual price increase will be. Your individual premiums may be increasing well in excess of the 4.84% average. 

General

1. If you can afford to, pay your annual premium as a lump sum in March to avoid the 1 April price rise.
2. Check to see if you can join a restricted membership health fund through you or your family's employment.
3. Look for funds that offer discounts for paying annually or by direct debit.

"Following these simple tips can help you find health cover that best meets your needs, while saving time and money. And if your budget can't stretch to private cover, it's always worth remembering that every Australian already has health cover through Medicare," Mr Godfrey says.

For more on the private insurance price hikes go to: choice.com.au/healthpremiums

Media contacts: Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669