Health insurance premiums are due to rise on April 1 and, according to recent research, millions of Australians may miss out on potential opportunities to save before the increase comes into play.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the increase to health insurance premiums in December last year, with premiums due to rise by an average of 2.74 per cent. While this is the average amount, some health funds have already announced increases far higher than that average, including NIB, which announced an average increase of 4.36 per cent.
HCF announced that its average increase will be 2.95 per cent, Bupa will see an average increase of 3.21 per cent, Medibank 3.25 per cent and Peoplecare 3.9 per cent.
Although this increase is the smallest in 20 years, it’s the second hike in about six months for some members, due to Covid-19 related delays of the annual increase in 2020. It follows the October 2020 increase of 2.92 per cent and a 3.25 per cent hike in 2019, and is expected to cost some members an estimated $112 a year.
Health funds are required to notify you of exactly how much your premium will rise, prior to the increase.
So, how can you save?
According to a recent survey by Finder, 41 per cent of respondents haven’t done anything to save money on their policy, with about 11.3 million Australians currently holding private health cover, Finder said it is the “equivalent of 4.6 million people who could be missing out on saving this health insurance season”.
Taylor Blackburn, Finder’s insurance expert, said there are things people can do immediately to beat the increase. “Now is the perfect time to reassess your health cover and lock in the best possible price before the April increase,” she said. “Not all health funds are equal, particularly when it comes to price increases, so see what’s out there and leave the loyalty behind.
“Reviewing your level of cover, splitting your hospital and extras, and looking at what other funds have to offer can all give you potential savings on your premiums.”
The survey found that 59 per cent of health insurance customers had taken steps to save money on their policy, which included paying up front for the year ahead, regularly reviewing and adjusting cover, and regularly switching health insurers.
However, according to the findings, the most common way people saved money on premiums was by going for the most basic policy. Blackburn said it was important to consider your cover needs, and not only look at the final price.
“Choosing a more basic policy is one way to save money, but it won’t be the right fit for everyone and can leave you underinsured,” she said. “Having health insurance is more than just a formality, it’s there to offer a financial buffer should you fall ill, so choosing the best policy for your needs is really important.”
Finder listed some changes you can make to save on your premiums, before the April 1 increase, including:
Why is it going up?
Health insurance premiums rise by a different amount each year. According to the Australian Ombudsman’s website, premiums increase when hospital, medical or other health-related costs rise, as well as if their members have an increase in the use of health services. The website adds that things such as wages for nurses and hospital staff, doctors’ charges and the cost of medical equipment and technology are all factors that can lead to increases.
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