Navigating the health insurance industry can feel like you’re entering a mind field. Do you choose the most affordable health fund or premium cover with all the added extras? Is one insurance provider better than the other? Is it even necessary to take out private health insurance?
These are just some of the common questions people ask themselves when considering health insurance. If you’re looking to find the right insurance plan for you, we’ve taken out all the confusion and made it easier with these 4 tips.
- Establish which cover is right for you
First things first, establish which type of health cover you need. There are three types of insurance cover in Australia. Determining which cover you need will help you choose between funds and policies. Here’s a run-down of your options:
- Hospital cover:
Hospital cover allows you to be treated as a private patient in either a public or private hospital. This can cover the costs of your stay including theatre costs, intensive care, tests, doctor’s fees and pharmaceuticals.
There are four levels of hospital cover ranging from the most basic and affordable to most expensive:
- Public hospital – entry level with minimum benefits in a public hospital
- Basic hospital – private hospital treatment excluding high-cost services
- Medium hospital – covers a wide range of procedures excluding services such as pregnancy and hip replacements
- Top hospital – premium cover offer all in-hospital treatments
- Extras cover:
Extras cover provides you with cover for a variety of general health services that aren’t covered under Medicare. Depending on the level of extras cover you take out, you could be covered for treatments such as chiro, physio, general dental, podiatry and speech therapy.
As with hospital cover, there are three levels of extra cover:
- Basic – designed for young and healthy people
- Medium – provides a broad range of cover with affordable premiums
- Comprehensive – top extras cover available
- Ambulance cover:
Ambulance cover provides emergency transportation and treatment. It can be taken out on its own or included as part of your extras policy. With some funds, you’ll also have a choice of basic or comprehensive ambulance cover.
- Combined cover:
Choose combined cover and you can merge your hospital, extras and ambulance cover together under the one package.
- Compare the private health insurers
Be diligent when it comes to comparing health insurance providers as your choice is likely to impact your annual premiums. Here’s a few points you should consider:
- Check the insurer operates in your state
- Search all the policies to find one that suits your current situation and lifestyle
- Compare the premiums of non-for-profit and for-profit insurers
- Know the rules about dependents
- Find out how your pre-existing medical conditions affects the cover
- Learn the ling and check the details
Don’t let private health insurance talk leave you confused. Learn the lingo and check the details of the policy. Understand the terms used, the conditions of the policy including your limits and exclusions.
For example, some common acronyms used are:
- Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) – the government surcharge taxing ‘high income earners’ living without private hospital insurance.
- Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) – the government levy for those who don’t take out private health insurance before they turn 31.
It’s also worth understanding the difference between treatment covers such as General Dental verses Major Dental. General Detail covers treatments that maintain teeth health and prevent problems. Major Dental on the other hand, cover for major work such as root canals, extractions or crowns.
- Focus on value, not price
With so many insurance policies and insurers it’s easy to get swayed by the price. However, just like anything, if a policy is incredibly cheap, you need to ask yourself why.
Be diligent checking the exclusions, restrictions and the benefits of the policy. Focus on policies that offer you value for money, rather than a dirt cheap annual premium with high excess or limited benefits.