If you currently have a private health insurance policy, you'll know the cost of protecting yourself from harm with a high level of cover.
However, do you know how competitively priced your policy is compared to those offered by other providers?
Experts say that comparing health insurance can save the average consumer around $1,500 per year – and due to a recently anticipated 6 per cent cost rise, now could be the perfect time to make some enquiries.
What changes are coming into place?
The Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC), the Government body in charge of advising Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley on policy changes, recently spoke to News Corp Australia on the upcoming rate hike.
Shaun Gath, CEO of the PHIAC said that a 6 per cent rise would be similar to those seen in other years – though it will no doubt test the budgets of families and businesses across Australia.
As these rate increases stack up, the average rise in insurance premiums continues to accumulate. What's more, it is rather varied between providers, giving consumers the ability to shop around and find a better deal.
For instance, research directly from News Corp Australia found the variety of premium increases over a five-year period has been between 27 per cent and 35 per cent. This means that two identical policies that were worth $3,000 in 2010 could now be $250 apart in 2015, depending on the provider.
An average increase of 33 per cent since 2010 also means that policyholders who paid $3,000 at the turn of the decade could now be paying $4,000 for the same level of cover.
Why change private health insurance provider?
With around 12.6 million Australians covered by six million private health insurance policies, there is certainly the scope for policyholders to look for cheaper cover. In fact, Mr Gath said people who don't take the opportunity to do so "are nuts".
The CEO, who is in charge of assessing and scrutinising changes to insurance rates, said that a family with the top level of insurance cover – including extras such as optical, dental and hospital treatment – could save $130 per month by switching provider.
"That's a meaningful amount of money," Mr Gath told News Corp this month – and he is no doubt right.
Of course, finding cheaper health insurance can also pay dividends to companies looking into lowering the cost of their employee benefits. A company of any size can find noticeable savings by making good decisions with their corporate heath insurance policies.
This presents a family or an organisation with the means to lower their premiums; as Mr Gath explained: "If they are unhappy with what happens this year, they should shop around."
Lowering health insurance costs
While putting health insurance providers' prices to the test is highly recommended, there are other tools for families and businesses looking to reduce the cost of their policies.
Limiting the terms of your policy to create a more affordable range of cover is an option for many, though must be approached with care. A hatchet job runs the risk of nullifying a policyholder's financial cover against some pressing health risks, so a more surgical and measured method is needed.
Despite the obvious costs involved in leaving a policy unchecked, most people only review theirs every three to five years, according to CEO at the Consumer Health Forum Adam Stankevicius.
For comparisons or to work on restructuring an existing policy, your health insurance broker will be the first port of call. Your broker has the freedom from bias, the networks and the industry expertise to find you a highly competitive insurance package.
To discuss your options further, contact HICA on 1300 44 22 01.