As April 1 approaches, health insurance policyholders will be preparing for increases to their premiums. Health funds put up their rates annually, and for the past few years, this magic number has been 6 per cent.
It's no small amount, particularly as inflation sits at around 2 per cent. Insurers say it is due to the increasing cost of healthcare, as new technologies make the industry more efficient, effective and expensive. Either way, many will be worried that their health insurance is becoming unaffordable.
It's a concern in health insurance circles that this is leading people down a dark and costly path. Experts say the rise of "junk policies" is leaving people uninsured or underinsured, and they will only find out they're not covered when they most need insurance most.
With that in mind, if you want to reduce your health insurance premiums, you'll need to do so without putting your cover at risk – balancing cost and quality is something we've always been big advocators of here at HICA.
So, how could you reduce your premiums? We've listed five ways below.
If you've had the same health insurance policy since 2007, check to see if you are paying a lower rate.
1) Make sure your policy is up to date
Single parents may be paying for people they don't need cover for. Ever since 2007, health insurers have offered a reduced premium to these individuals instead of charging the standard family rate.
If you're a single parent, make sure your policy is with an insurer that provides you with a reduce premium. The amount you could save will differ, too. Choice says one policy could provide a 10 per cent discount, and another 30 per cent.
What's more, if you've had the same health insurance policy since 2007, check to see if you are paying a lower rate. Some insurers only offered it for policies starting after this date.
2) Consider an excess
If you're comfortable with the situation, you can choose to pay an excess on any hospital admission you have. That means you'll pay a set amount for any hospital admission, with the rest of the accommodation costs provided by your fund.
It can add up to a significant amount in savings on your monthly plan, and you could have the excess amount put to one side to make sure it doesn't cripple your finances should anything happen.
3) Claim your rebate
Many Australians can claim the private health insurance rebate and drastically reduce the amount they pay from their own pockets for health insurance. The proportion you receive could be up to 37.094 per cent, though it depends on your income and age. Either way, it could save you a bundle.
4) See what your employer can do
Corporate health insurance is an attractive thing for employers to have. It helps them keep their employees fighting fit and able to afford private health care. While you might not be able to convince your employer to pay part or all of your insurance costs, you may already have a policy in place at your work.
For instance, a number of superannuation funds have arrangements with health insurers, as do associations and some mutual banks.
Health funds can discount policies by up to 12 per cent by setting up agreements with companies, according to Choice, and that can be passed straight on to you, your employer or other institutions.
One of the most substantial ways to reduce your health insurance costs is to change your provider.
5) Compare health insurance providers
One of the most substantial ways to reduce your health insurance costs is to change your provider. Australia's 34 health funds offer different rates for the same products, so how do you know you're paying the best rate?
At HICA, we can compare health insurance on your behalf. We'll discuss with you your needs and talk you through anything you may like to know during the process. Get in touch before March 31 and you could even avoid the premium hike for an entire year by paying for your insurance annually.
Either way, if you'd like some help, give us a call on 1300 44 22 01.