Aussies questioning value of private health cover as premiums set to rise

Feb 08, 2020
On April 1, health insurance rates will rise an average of 2.92 per cent. Source: Getty.

As private health insurance premiums reach new heights, many Australians are questioning whether they’re getting value from their health cover.

Recent survey results from comparison website Compare the Market found almost half of Aussies with private health cover were considering switching insurers because of the rising cost of their policies. On April 1, health insurance rates are set to rise by an average of 2.92 per cent.

Respondents were asked what aspects of their health cover they find most valuable. Of those surveyed, 29 per cent said they value their extras, like visits to the physio or chiropractor, the most. While 26 per cent nominated unexpected health issues, such as in-hospital treatment for an accident or injury, and 18 per cent nominated the amount they can claim.

Reduced waiting times was another perk among policyholders (16 per cent), and proved particularly important for older Aussies. Nearly a third (30 per cent) of over-60s and 28 per cent of over-70s said this was the most valuable part of their health insurance policy.

The findings also revealed that nearly half (43 per cent) of respondents made just one or two claims to their health insurer in 2019, while 39 per cent made five to 10 claims, and 11 per cent made 10 to 15 claims. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of all claims were for dental services, and more than half (56 per cent) were for optical services — which was also the highest claimed health service among the older age group.

Health expert at Compare the Market Anthony Fleming said while health cover can be very valuable, there are some other points that are worth considering.

“Health cover can be very valuable when treatment is not covered by Medicare outside of the hospital or patients opt to be treated in a private hospital,” he said. “Many of these medical treatment bills would otherwise be very expensive without private health cover, and this is when it becomes most valuable to consumers.

“However, this year’s increase in health insurance premiums prompts a significant proportion of policyholders to seriously consider the importance of their health cover. It’s interesting to see the number of consumers who will shop around, with the view of switching to a more suitable and competitive policy this year.”

Fleming added it’s important to check you’re still getting value for money on your policy before April 1.

“We recommend that Aussies review their cover regularly to make sure it’s still relevant to their needs and circumstances, as well as their back-pocket.”

He continued: “We recommend that those who are considering taking out private health insurance or switching to a new policy do so before April 1 when the rate rise takes effect, to enable them to prepay their years’ worth of premiums in advance and lock in their health policy cost for the next year. While this year we will see the smallest rate rise in 19 years, it’s crucial consumers don’t get complacent and remain health- and money-wise in 2020.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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