Price not enough to compare insurance
Consumers can be forgiven if they feel overwhelmed or confused by the myriad insurance options currently being advertised.
At the end of every financial year health insurance providers start talking about tax, surcharges and rebates, but don’t let this rush you into a poor decision.
Health insurance is a complex area and your needs may change with time, so when you are looking to take out or review your health insurance policy there are a number of consumer tips that can help with your decision.
The first is when you compare policies you need to read more than the label. A recent review highlighted that if you just compare “top” cover between insurers what is actually included in that cover can vary greatly.
Top hospital cover on one policy may be comparable to a lower level of hospital cover with another insurer.
We recommend you compare policies in detail and think carefully about your needs before shopping for policies based on price alone. Some cheaper policies may not be value for money in the long run because they may have a number of important exclusions.
The results from comparator websites can also be ambiguous because they do not always make it clear that they don’t compare the entire market when they return the “best” price.
The government website privatehealth.gov.au is a great place to start a full review of your health insurance.
This website is set up under legislation and every insurer is required to provide up-to-date information about what is covered by each policy and its prices.
The site has a comparison feature you can use for health insurance policies from all the private health insurers and also offers advice on managing your policy, including leaving or switching companies.
Another key point is that if you wish to switch to another insurance company’s policy, which has the same or lower level of benefit, you will not have to serve another waiting period.
However, if your new policy covers new or higher benefits which were not covered in your previous one, then you will need to serve those waiting periods, unless otherwise negotiated with your new fund provider.
Any claims you have already been paid by your previous fund may be taken into account in your annual benefit limits.
Remember you are not obliged to stay with your current insurance company.
A health fund cannot refuse to insure you or refuse to sell you any policy you want to buy on the basis of your health or how likely you are to claim.
You can always consider switching insurers to obtain a better deal and you won’t be charged exit or set-up fees to do so.