Need to know
- Over 48,000 health insurance policies (or 47% of all policies) are currently closed and only available to existing members
- CHOICE experts found great-value closed Gold policies that are hundreds of dollars cheaper than currently offered policies
- Review your health insurance from Bupa, HCF and NIB before the premium increase kicks in on 1 November 2022, and before 16 January 2023 for Medibank
It's good practice to compare health insurance every year, otherwise you might find you're paying too much for a policy that doesn't suit your needs. But what if you can't find your policy on your health fund's website?
Health insurers change the policies on their websites from time to time, and this can mean a number of things.
- Your policy isn't showing on your fund's website, but if someone asks for it, they can take it out.
- Your policy is closed for new members, which means it's no longer available for sale but current members can keep it.
- Your policy is closed and will soon be shut down and you'll be moved to another policy (if this happens, your health insurer will clearly explain the differences in cover and premium and give you at least 30 days' notice).
If your policy is closed for new members, it can be:
- a great deal – older Gold hospital policies may be substantially cheaper than new ones, for instance
- a bad deal – newer extras policies often offer you 60–90% of the total cost of your treatment while older policies may only pay you set benefits that may not have increased much over the years while your health provider's charges went up.
Is your closed policy the best deal?
Nearly half of all health insurance policies have been closed by funds and are no longer available to new members. And some of them are a great deal.
CHOICE experts found closed Gold hospital policies that are hundreds of dollars cheaper than currently offered policies.
Gold policies are mainly suited to people who have chronic health conditions, those who need elective surgery like hip and knee replacements, or those who are planning to start a family. Find out more about Gold policies and what they cover.
It's good to keep in mind that even if your closed policy is better than any policies your health fund currently offers, it might still be a bad deal when you compare it to policies from other funds, or if you realise you don't actually need a Gold policy and could downsize to a cheaper Silver or Bronze policy instead.
Best deals from Medibank, Bupa, HCF and NIB
Now is a good time to compare health insurance policies, especially if you're with one of the big health funds: Bupa, Medibank, HCF or NIB.
Bupa, HCF and NIB will increase their premiums on 1 November 2022, so you have until 31 October to lock in your premiums for up to 12 months with Bupa or up to 13 months with NIB, and up to 18 months with HCF. You have until 15 January 2023 to lock in your premium for 12 months with Medibank.
Why are older Gold health insurance policies so cheap?
There have been significant changes in Gold policies in the marketplace since Gold policies were introduced as part of the 2019 health insurance reforms.
Since Gold policies are best suited to people with chronic health issues, those who need expensive elective surgery, or those planning to have a baby, people on these policies tend to be more likely to go to hospital and cost the health fund money (in contrast to Silver and Bronze policies which people may take out for tax reasons or 'just in case' cover).
This is especially the case for Gold policies with nil excess, which are best suited to people who have surgery coming up in the next one to two years.
While these policies were offered by nearly all funds in the past, now only four open health funds have Gold policies with nil excess. They are:
If you're looking for a Gold policy, check whether you can join a restricted fund as they offer much better deals on Gold policies. Restricted funds offering Gold policies with nil excess are:
Find out more about restricted membership private health funds and who can join them. If you're eligible, you could save a lot of money.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.