Navigating the world of private health insurance can be tricky and time consuming. We all know taking out an insurance policy can protect us financially in the event we need medical care. But how do you know that you’re with a health care fund that has your best interest at heart?
Clever marketing and in-depth paperwork can leave us feeling more confused. Our article outlines six things that are not generally spoken about health insurance. These are factors consumers should know about private health insurance before they take out a new policy or switch providers.
Readers will be clued up on the reality of joining a big fund; bigger is not always better or mean more value. We discuss the benefits of taking out health cover beyond receiving hospital care and identify how health insurance can help consumers save money at tax time.
Choosing health insurance can be tricky, but it doesn’t need to be. With a little knowledge under their belt, consumers can read beyond the headlines and know the facts about health cover.
Private health insurance can give you the peace of mind you’re financially protected when you need medical care. Without it, you may not be able to afford the expensive medical treatments at the time you need them most.
Besides having this security, taking out a health insurance policy comes with its advantages. Here are 6 things you should know about health insurance before you choose a new policy.
1. Big is not always better
Contrary to popular opinion, the big funds don’t necessarily have the best cover. In fact, most of the larger health insurance brands have more arrangements with public hospitals than they do with private hospitals. Just because the fund is well known and well marketed, doesn’t mean they’re the have the best insurance policy for you. That’s why it’s important to compare the details of policies to ensure you find the best plan for your needs.
2. A larger fund doesn’t mean more value
Value also has nothing to do with the size of the health fund. In reality it’s more likely the opposite. Big health funds are seeking to make profits for their investors and shareholders. In some cases, they do this by offering higher premiums to their members. On the other hand, not-for-profit funds are looking to provide the best value and services to its members as there are no investors to satisfy.
3. Not all private health funds have agreements with your preferred hospital
Just because you have private health insurance, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to receive treatment at your preferred hospital. That’s because funds have agreements with certain hospitals which, may or may not, include those in your area.
If you live in regional or rural Australia it’s vital you check your fund’s preferred hospital list if you don’t want to travel for medical services.
4. Health insurance isn’t just useful for when you’re in hospital
While health insurance means you can be treated in a private or public hospital, there are more benefits to take advantage of if you have extras cover. If you regularly receive medical treatments such as physiotherapy or are keen on using alternative therapies to maintain your health, taking out extras cover could be worthwhile.
5. You won’t lose your benefits if you switch health funds
The prospect of losing benefits is one of the main reasons people are reluctant to switch health funds, even when they could be making substantial savings. Thankfully, any waiting periods you have already served will be transferred with you to the new fund.
6. Health insurance could help you save at tax time
Private health insurance isn’t just a luxury item only the wealthy can afford. It can also help you save money at tax time if you’re required to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge. If you’re single and earning over $90,000, or a couple or family earning over $180,000 buying a basic hospital cover may see you make a saving, plus give you the added benefit of health insurance. It’s a win-win.
Choosing health insurance can be a tricky and stressful task. Finding a fund that meets your needs and budget is key if you want to make sure your health insurance policy will work for you. With a little knowledge under your belt, you can read beyond the headlines and know the facts about health cover.
Written by the team at Members Own Health Funds, a not-for-profit and mutual health funds group in Australia.