Get The Best Value From Your Private Health Insurance
If you have private health cover, it could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars over your life time in addition to providing you with more choice, more options and faster medical care than if you were to have access to just the public health system alone. From major surgery and dental work through to everyday health service such as physiotherapy and massage, having the appropriate health insurance could help you reduce the amount you spend when you need these treatments.
There are many ways to save money on your private health cover. To ensure you are getting the best value for money, take a look at your own personal circumstances and be sure that your policy suits your needs.
Whether you are reviewing an existing health insurance policy or you are looking at private health cover for the first time, it pays to consider a range of different health funds. This can be a confusing and time consuming process, so use as many free online ‘comparison’ tools as you can find or consider whether it would be worth your time using a health insurance broker. Investigate restricted membership health funds that you may have access to through other family members or your employer.
Join A Private Health Fund Before You Turn 31
A penalty applies if you have not taken out and maintained private health insurance from the year you turn 31 years old. The LHC (Lifetime Health Cover) loading penalty can potentially attract up to 2% loading to their hospital cover premium for every year they are over 31 at the time of joining. For example, a person who joins a private health fund when they are 40 years old may attract a 20% LHC loading on top of their usual premium.
Choose Your Hospital Excess
Many health funds offer reduced premiums in exchange for a larger excess being paid if you do require a hospital admission. Balance how much you would save across the year with the likelihood of hardship should you need to pay the excess. If you know you will be able to pay the excess easily and the chances of a hospital admission is low, you may wish to opt for a reduced premium. If you or a family member has a pre-existing condition however, you may decide the higher premium with no excess for hospital admissions will give you better peace of mind.
Make Sure Your Health Policy Suits Your Current Needs
If you have children, you are quite likely to want top extras cover to cover for dental and optical services that many children need. If you are planning on starting a family, make sure you are covered for pregnancy related services and that your infant will be covered under your policy also. If you are young and fit, there may be no need to pay for hospital cover that includes heart surgery and knee replacements.
Customise Your Extras Cover
You may be able to customise your extras cover and take off services you know you will never use, such as some of the alternative therapies. Keeping the services you use more regularly, such as dental and optical services, will reduce your gap payments throughout the year and make access to these services more financially viable. It does pay to do your own calculations to make sure you are getting value for money with your extras cover. Take a look at how much you have saved across the past year in extras rebates compared to how much your annual extras premium will cost you to assess whether or not having extras cover actually does save you money.
Pay Your Annual Premium In Advance
Many policies are cheaper when you pay for 12 months in advance compared to monthly or fortnightly instalments. This also protects you from potential increase in health insurance premiums, which can often occur annually.
Use Health Providers Approved By Your Private Health Fund
Ask your health fund for a list of preferred providers in your area. These preferred providers have an agreement with your health fund and are likely to give a larger rebate, resulting in less out of pocket expense for you.
Group Your Health Cover With Other Insurance Policies
Some companies offer a discount when you group insurance policies together. Investigate whether any of your current insurance policies for your home, car or business also offer health insurance.
Do You Qualify For Corporate Discounts?
Consider what other memberships you have and what other services you use. Often your employer, your superannuation fund, your bank or other associations may be affiliated with a health fund. You may be eligible for a discount on your health cover, but you may also receive discount on the other membership or service if you are a member of the affiliated private health fund.
Avoid The Medicare Levy Surcharge
Most Australian tax payers pay a 1.5% Medicare Levy to help fund the country’s Medicare system, allowing Australian’s to enjoy one of the best health care systems in the world. The MLS (Medicare Levy Surcharge) is an additional 1-1.5% levy that is paid by tax payers who do not have private health cover. The aim of this surcharge is to encourage those who can afford it to take out health insurance in order to reduce the demand on the public health care system.
Above All Else, Don’t Risk Your Health
We insure all our other assets: our car, our house and our income. The most important asset we all have is our health. While Medicare provides Australians with an excellent base level of health care, having private health cover will give you a much wider range of health care options. From hospital cover through to general extras cover, there are many things to consider when you are comparing health insurance policies. Take your time to look at your own personal situation to make sure your health cover suits your current circumstances. Be sure to do your maths to weigh up what you are investing in private health compared to what your gaps or out of pocket expenses will be and how much money you will actually save.