Is it time to ditch your private health insurance? 12

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A new survey has shown that a staggering 70 per cent of Australians that have private health care cover are considering getting rid of it for downgrading their coverage. The main reasons are that they are seeing a diminishing return on coverage as the extras seem to be getting smaller while the price for coverage is going up.

The survey also shows that 80 per cent of people believe that it profits before patients with the major private health companies and more than 90 per cent think it’s all become similar to the United States medical system.

Since 2010 the average price for private health care has risen by 35 per cent. This increase is outside of average inflation, and it has left many feeling betrayed by their cover. People have become so disenfranchised with private health that the number of individuals with private cover fell for the first time in over 15 years.

The concern is that with more people leaving private health cover will put a bigger strain on the public health system, increasing wait times, and eating up more of the federal budget.  Who’s to blame for this mess? According to those surveyed more than half blamed the private health companies while a quarter blamed the federal government.

The government has insured that they will be looking into it as they have announced that there will be a committee that will be overseeing health reform. What that means, in the end, is still up in the air. The problem being that while the committee will take time to come to a decision on what should be done, Australians are paying more and more just to have cover. Or, like many, they are opting out to take their chance with the public system.

What do you think?  Do you have private cover?  What benefits do you see to having private versus public?  Is it worth it anymore?

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The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I’m just waiting until I retire in the next couple of years then I will be ditching my private health insurance. Paying out bucket loads and only using ancillarys.

  2. If we all saved the amount we put into health insurance (which doesn’t include the extra expense of the “gap” every time we make a claim) we’d probably all be able to fund the occasional surgery in a private hospital. We’re still in it, but it’s a massive expense and we may yet have to ditch it.

    I think if it was just a matter of paying the premiums, many could afford to stay in private health, however, that’s just the start of the costs. It’s the massive gap payments that make it unviable for most.

    2 REPLY
    • I agree Jennifer. After years of paying into private health insurance, only claiming on the ancillaries (new glasses every 3 years, 3 or 4 visits to the physio) we were left with a $1500 gap payment after my husband was hospitalised to remove a kidney stone. Felt betrayed by the fund (Medibank Private) and started thinking about ditching it and setting up a savings account for next time. Almost certain I will come out in front! Gail.

    • I agree Jennifer! I looked at getting private cover, but with my age etc, there was no way I would be able to afford the premiums, let alone the ‘gap’ payments, which seem to be getting bigger and bigger each year. I’ll be sticking with Medicare and if the government privatizes and ruins it, I’ll just have to go without health care. It is already becoming unaffordable to a lot of people and things will only get worse!

  3. We are retiring at the end of the year and we have yet to make enquiries about what happens in a small country town when you become sick. There is a small community hospital, but not sure how it all works. Our private health cover is an enormous burden financially, one we almost certainly won’t be able to continue when we retire.

  4. I had been in private health insurance since I started work at 18. When I had an operation in the past I went into hospital and left without paying a penny.

    Two years ago I had a broken foot and went to a private hospital to have the bone fused. It cost me $500 before I went into the hospital and $2800 extra for the surgeon. When I got home I was in plaster for 8 weeks with no home help at all.

    My friend had an different operation at a public hospital at the same time. It cost her nothing and she had home help. The hospital organised for a nurse to visit, a physiotherapist to help her get moving, a bus to take her to a warm pool for exercise and council home help.

    It was then I decided the public health system was so much better. Last time they put the price up yet again I pulled out of private health. Now I am a pensioner and couldn’t possibly afford it. I feel cheated after years of wasting my money on private health.

  5. Health funds definitely put profits before people – hence ridiculous increase in premiums. I managed to scrimp and save to pay private health for 20 years but dropped out earlier this year as the co-payments plus the excess (and that’s not including monthly payments) became astronomical. If only waiting times for public hospitals could be reduced, very few people would opt for private health.

  6. Was due to have an Operation.
    I’m in Top Hospital Private coverage, have been ever since 1954, through my Parents’, then.

    Surgeon to whom I was referred wanted an ‘out of pocket’ fee for herself of $800.00! She said she ‘had bills to pay’!
    Yeah, love, so have I, & I’m on a Pension!

    A $735.00 ‘out of pocket’ fee as wanted by her Anaesthetist!
    How greedy’s that, on both their parts!
    No wonder the Hospital’s car park was full of BMW’s, Merc’s, & top-notch Range Rovers!

    So I went through the ‘process’ a different way.
    Neither my Surgeon, or his Anaesthetist charged an ‘out of pocket fee!
    Big difference!

    The care I obtained was absolutely fantastic!

    I check my Cover, every six months’ to ensure I’m getting my ‘money’s worth’.
    Top Hospital is one facility I won’t stop, & am at the age now that ‘Extra’s’ are needed, too!

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  8. In Oct., 1984, I went to claim a pair of newly prescribed eye glasses, which cost $180.00.
    I went to (then) MBF, & was refunded $60! Where’s the rest? said I, as in TOP cover. ‘Maximum we can payout is 30%”.
    So I stopped the ‘Extra’s’, immediately, & kept only Top Hospital. So my husband & I put 10% of out wages”, each f/n into a ‘Medical Account’, & ALL was paid for all out of that.

    Haven’t bothered counting the $ we’ve saved since then by doing that, but it’s certainly a huge amount. And it’s got us through having two children, & their associated medical costs, from birth to adulthood!

    A certainly worthwhile exercise!

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  10. When I was working, I used to have medium level Singles cover with Extras, as I wanted to have the option of having a private room in a private hospital should I need to go into hospital. When I had to have a serious operation, I found that the hospital charged like a wounded bull – surgeons (2), anaesthetist, required “out of pocket” fees, there was a huge gap, and to top it off, my Health fund (BUPA) decided that they didn’t want to come to the party because prior to requiring the op, I had increased my level of cover. I fought them and won the battle, but it was the last thing an ill person needs! When I went on to an age pension, I maintained my cover for as long as I could, and then had to reduce my level of cover. Eventually I had to opt out of hospital cover, and just retained the extras cover (mainly for glasses) and when I had to have another serious operation this year, I went public – and it was the best thing I could have done! Cost me nothing, the social worker arranged for someone to help with housework for a month, and my peace of mind was intact! I’ll never take out private hospital cover again – apart from not being able to afford it, I think the care one gets with the public hospital system is fantastic!

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