Bad choice not a healthy move

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - STREET WATCH -

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

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