14 February 2018
CHOICE's latest consumer pulse report has found 70% of Australians who don't have private health insurance say it's because it is too expensive. The finding comes in the wake of the Federal Government signing off another 3.95% average increase this year.
"With health insurance premiums up approximately 70% over the past decade, alongside policies with a growing number of loopholes, it is clear private health insurance is no longer a good value option for many people," says CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.
"With wage growth remaining static, more people are feeling pressure on their household budget and are rightly questioning whether they need to pay for health insurance."
"While families and older people may benefit from top level policies, people under 31, earning less than $90,000 a year and who are otherwise fit and well, should be asking do I need health insurance?" Mr Godfrey says.
"As we head towards April 1 when the latest price hike will hit, insurers and for-profit switching sites will be bombarding you with fear-laden advertising to get you to lock into any policy possible. However, your best option might be to drop your cover and use the public system.
"Being able to choose your own doctor, go to a private hospital and avoid public waiting lists for an elective surgery does have some benefit, but it's important to remember that every Australian already has health cover through Medicare.
"Using the public health system through Medicare is a sensible option in many cases, especially emergencies. If you're deciding to go private, it pays to be aware of exactly what you're getting in terms of cost, coverage and value for money.
"We believe industry still has a lot of work to do to be clear and transparent about what you're getting for your money.
"Worryingly, some insurers may try to downgrade you from a top-level cover policy into a 'junk' policy with excessive exclusions to reduce the premium cost, but this can ultimately compound your pain.
"Reducing your coverage can see you still paying thousands in premiums and not be covered for treatment of common procedures for treating cancer, heart disease and stroke," says Mr Godfrey.
Before you sign up to another year of pricey premiums take CHOICE's free health check at www.doineedhealthinsurance.com.au.
Media contact: Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669
Health insurance saving tips:
- Take the Do I need health insurance? health check
- If you need cover, a top level hospital cover with an increased excess is often better value than reducing your cover.
- Compare policies using an independent comparison site such as: https://www.choice.com.au/money/insurance/health/compare
- Pay your annual premium in March to avoid the April 1 price rise for now
- Check to see if you can join a restricted membership health fund for your industry.
- Think of extras cover as a budgeting tool. If your annual payouts are less than the cost of your policy, it may not be worth the money.
 CHOICE Consumer Pulse, January 2018. The research is based on a survey of 1,029 Australian households. Quotas were applied for representations in each age group as well as genders and location to ensure coverage in each state and territory across metropolitan and regional areas. Fieldwork was conducted from the 3rd to 15th of January 2018. The sample size of those without PHI is 461.