Health insurance premiums will increase in Australia as of tomorrow, the 1st April 2018, by 3.95% on average. The Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, announced that some insurance premiums could increase as much as 8.9%.
With the continual increases in health insurance premiums there are people cancelling their cover every day and taking their chances with the public health system. If people are not cancelling their health insurance, then they are either down-grading their cover or increasing their excess.
The public’s dissatisfaction with premium increases in private health insurance was clear when we went to visit our health insurer Bupa just over a week ago. There were people lined up waiting for a consultant. I don’t think they were lined up waiting to take out health insurance more likely to make changes.
We have always had private health insurance cover to be ready for the unexpected health event. If we had not had cover and no health issues we could have invested in the property market and more than likely would have been better off financially. However, we always liked the option of paying for private cover that gave us choices when it comes to our health. This happened back in 2010 when my O&O was diagnosed with stomach cancer. It was a case of serendipity that he was diagnosed early and that saved his life. Given our private health cover we were able to act quickly and choose the surgeon and the hospital where he would have surgery and chemotherapy. Therefore, there are advantages and disadvantages of having private health cover. The main advantage is you have choices the disadvantage is that there is a financial cost.
In evaluating our private health insurance premiums this month, we realised we had to make a change. Our premium was due to go up by $11.00 per fortnight, tomorrow. We already had a $500 excess on our hospital cover to reduce the overall premium, therefore no changes there. When we looked at our “premium” extras cover (no longer available to new customers) we realised we were paying for services that we had never used.
We adjusted our “extras” cover to 4 services that we would use including dental and optical. This would be a saving of over $1000 in premium costs per year. We had two trips into a BUPA office to discuss our options before deciding. Then when we went in to make the changes we were offered a better deal on our hospital cover. If we got the “no pregnancy” cover our premium would reduce even more! I had to double-check that there was no catch. Take off the pregnancy cover (no longer required) and add-on the complimentary access to Best Doctors, a network of 53,000 world leading specialists, to get a confidential second opinion on a diagnosis or treatment plan (some exclusions apply). We opted for this and in the process of the changes have saved ourselves $1,424 per year.
It takes a little time to check the circumstances if you have health cover, but it is well worth the time. Like us, talk to your health insurance provider or go on-line and find a website that will do health insurance cover comparisons. I did try this once, but they want too much information. But it might work for you! Talking the time to assess our health insurance cover was worthwhile. It can save you money, so it is well worth the time and effort.
If you have time to read a little more about the upsides and downsides of health care in Australia read my earlier post by clicking here.
Please note: After I wrote this article I checked our online BUPA account. I discovered that the what we thought was the fortnightly premium was only for the next fortnight, not thereafter! There was an adjustment which we expected however the consultant was not clear, even after we asked what the fortnightly ongoing cost was, which we then wrote down on our paperwork (what we had taken with us). We are saving closer to $1000 per year, not $1,424 as we both thought! Is there a lesson here? If you are making changes to your private health insurance ask for the ongoing fortnightly cost!! Unfortunately at BUPA when you make the changes you walk away with no paperwork! Changes happen on the system overnight and customers are notified by email the next day. This is not good enought! BTW BUPA is a foreign owned company whereas Medibank Private is Australian owned. Maybe time for a complete change!!