On December 23, the government announced it's approved of 2014 premium increases for Australian health insurance funds.
This is the earliest release of the approved increases for many years, which should please health funds across the country.
In the past, private health funds have felt frustrated with unnecessary over-regulation of the approval process. Previously, government procedures and deliberations created months of delays.
While the official announcement highlighted an industry weighted average increase of 6.2 per cent, this figure may not be entirely accurate in terms of a realistic median.
Although the announced 2014 increase is the highest growth in many years, the actual average premium increase is more like 5.2 per cent.
This is due to large health funds, such as NIB, HCF, Australian Unity, Bupa and Medibank sharing significantly higher increases than the smaller funds.
To put this in perspective, with the highest growth NIB has been approved to raise their premium by 7.99 per cent, while the smallest increase is registered with Health Insurance Fund of Australia – only climbing by 2.98 per cent.
This means if you are with one of the smaller health insurance funds in Australia, your increase is likely to be significantly lower than the major funds.
However, it is important to remember that the larger health funds invest heavily in preventative health research and programs to address the potential health issues that may affect their members.
It is therefore important to consider your access to prevention programs and chronic disease management services before moving health funds.
Changing health insurance provider or policy is an option Australians should consider regularly, as advised by the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman.
Reviewing your current health product should include identifying the type of cover you need and the premiums you are willing to pay.
If you find you are unhappy with your policy, this does not necessarily mean you should change health fund.
Instead, there may be another package or product that better suits your needs available from your current health fund. It's usually worth having a look around and doing a bit of research.
Most corporate health insurance plans are protected from premium increases until their annual review dates, which can be much later in the year.
Employers should consider the benefits of establishing a business health plan for their employees.
HICA are experts in assisting small and large companies to access corporate health insurance products that offer discounts, protection against rate increases and other benefits.
For more information, contact the team at HICA today.