As coronavirus restrictions are lifting, more and more health services are available to Australians once again - meaning that you might be using your health insurance for the first time in a while. CHOICE health insurance experts have found that you can save up to $1,578 by switching to a different insurer.
"With coronavirus restrictions easing and private hospitals beginning to start elective procedures again, now's the time to look at your health insurance policy," says CHOICE health insurance expert, Kate Bower.
"CHOICE has been busy crunching the numbers, and we've come up with a number of ways you can save money on your health insurance," says Bower.
1. Switch insurers - you could get the same cover for less
"The same cover with a different insurer can be hundreds of dollars cheaper," says Bower.
"Whether you have a Gold, Silver or Bronze policy, it's likely that you'll be able to find a cheaper deal that will give you exactly the same amount of cover."
New research from our experts has found that you could save up to $1,578 per year on hospital cover just by switching to a different policy.
"CHOICE's experts found that there are big savings to be had across all levels of hospital cover, just by switching to a different insurer," says Bower.
- Australians with Gold policies could save $932 per year on average by moving to a cheaper policy.
- Australians with Silver policies could save $576 per year on average.
- Australians with Bronze policies could save $435 per year on average.
Infographics breaking down savings by state and cover available for embedding here:
2. Consider a Plus policy if you don't need the full cover of Gold or Silver
We've caught some health insurers selling rip off "Plus" policies, but if you have specific health needs you may be able to find an affordable Plus policy without paying the full Gold or Silver price.
"The Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers are meant to make it easier to choose health insurance but in reality there are a confusing array of "Plus" options that include some of the best and worst deals in the market," says Bower.
"If you focus on your specific health needs you may find Bronze Plus or Silver Plus a cheaper alternative - just watch out for health insurers who try to trick you into unwittingly paying more."
3. Don't rely on shonks when it comes to picking an insurer
"Choosing a health insurance policy can be difficult, and you might turn to the first site on Google for advice," says Bower. "However, it's important to be wary of commercial comparison sites - they may not have your best interests at heart."
"If you buy insurance through a commercial comparison site, for example, they often earn a commission and may not compare much of the health insurance market at all. As a non-profit consumer advocate, CHOICE independently compares 37 health funds while some commercial sites compare as few as seven."
If you're looking for an independent health insurance comparison tool, CHOICE can help you compare hundreds of policies and find one that's the best fit for you.
4. See if health cover impacts your tax
The health insurance industry has gotten in trouble for potentially misleading Australians about the tax implications of not having health insurance.
If you earn over $90,000 as a single person or $180,000 as a couple you will be charged the Medicare Levy Surcharge, but most Australians don't earn above that threshold.
If you do fall into this category, you could get a "Basic" policy to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge but we don't recommend these junk policies if you need cover for health reasons.
If you're not sure how your health insurance will impact your tax, you can use our tool to find out: https://www.doineedhealthinsurance.com.au/
5. Consider if you need health insurance at all, especially extras
"CHOICE's long standing advice is that extras is a glorified savings program," says Bower.
"Extras can be incredibly hard to get value from and you may be better off putting the money you would spend on extras into a savings account. Whether you have extras or not has no impact on your tax."
Australians have been leaving private health insurance in droves. CHOICE is campaigning for a review into the private health system and better support for Australians financially impacted by COVID-19.
"It's clear a lot of Australians are struggling to pay their private health insurance costs and it's fair to consider if you're getting value for it at all. Private health premiums and the out of pocket costs that come with claiming on your health insurance are a significant and unexpected stress for many Australians. You should not feel pressured to buy private health insurance above other essentials."
Join the campaign at choice.com.au/fairerhealthcare
Media contact: Katelyn Cameron, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0430 172 669
Read the article here: www.choice.com.au/healthinsurancehelp
Images available via Dropbox: https://shwca.se/healthinsurancehelp