Got a lazy $3,000 lying around? That’s how much you’ll need to fork out every year for a standard health insurance policy for the average family – or perhaps even more for premium services, like hip surgery and pregnancy. We show you how to get a better deal!
The federal government recently gave Australian health funds the go ahead to increase health insurance premiums by more than 5%, pushing the average family policy up by around $3 per week, or $150 per year.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon claims the premium hike would have been greater without her intervention. "During the premium process I asked 17 of the 35 health funds to resubmit their applications, which helped reduce the premium increase for 7.9 million Australians," she says.
Still, that doesn’t really help the average Australian, who needs to find around $50-$60 per week in order to pay for private health insurance for their family.
So how can you slash the costs of your health insurance policy and get a better deal?
1. Compare and contrast
Don’t simply settle for the policy you’ve got. Premiums vary widely between different health funds, so have a look at what else is on offer and you’ll almost definitely be able to lock in a better price. A good place to start is a website like www.iselect.com.au, which compares various health insurance premiums in the one spot.
2. Look at your excess
Each health insurance policy has it’s own excess for hospital stays, usually in the amount of $0, $250 or $500. If you increase the excess on your policy, you can save around $5 per week or up to $250 per year.
3. Separate wants from needs
Grab a copy of your health insurance policy’s list of inclusions and work out what you really need. You may be paying for expensive extra’s cover, when you only really the visit the dentist every year or two – or you may have full hospital coverage, when you only need the basic services covered. Make a list of non-negotiables, and then shop around for a policy that meets those specific needs.
4. Analyse the extras
It’s easy to be tempted to pay a little more for a higher level of extras cover, as it can give you access to all sorts of treatments including remedial massage, physiotherapy, weight management programs and even pilates! But nothing comes free: you’ll pay anything from a few dollars to $10 per week for extended extras coverage, which can add up to hundreds of dollars per year. Work out what extras you really need, and then reduce your policy down to the bare minimum you require, and you’ll save up to $500 annually.
5. Streamline the payment process
Some health funds offer discounts if you pay by direct deposit from your savings account or credit card. For instance, if you pay your premiums by direct debit with nib health insurance, they’ll give you up to 4% discount. On a health insurance policy of $48 per week or $2,496 annually, that’s around $100 back in your pocket each year.
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