Bad choice not a healthy move
with Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard CONSUMERS can be forgiven if they feel overwhelmed or confused by myriad insurance options advertised.
At the end of every financial year, health insurance providers talk about tax, surcharges and rebates but do not 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 you with your decision.
The first is when you compare policies you need to read more than the label. Top hospital cover on one policy may be comparable to a lower level of hospital cover with another insurer.
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 end as they may have important exclusions.
The government website privatehealth.gov.au is a great place to start a full review of your health insurance.
The site has a comparison feature for health insurance policies from all the private health insurers and 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 is the same or lower level benefit, you will not have to serve another waiting period.
But if your new policy covers new or higher benefits that were not covered in your previous one, then you will need to serve those waiting periods, unless otherwise negotiated with your new fund provider.
A health fund cannot refuse to insure you or refuse to sell you any policy you want to buy because of your health or how likely you are to claim. You can always consider switching insurers to obtain a better deal and you will not be charged exit or set-up fees to do so.
Private health insurance is not compulsory, but your decision may have financial implications that can affect your tax status.
Health insurance advertising may stress buying private health insurance can help you with your tax, but this may not always be the case. Check with the tax office.
If you have concerns or complaint about your health insurance contact the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman www.ombudsman.gov.au/about/ private-health-insurance