Are you considering taking out private health cover? Then it's essential that you know which questions to ask your potential health fund to ensure that your health insurance plan caters to your medical and financial needs.
How long do I have to wait to be covered?
This is an important question to pose to health funds, as waiting periods may vary between insurers.
The government has set the following maximum waiting periods that funds can impose on hospital treatment:
– 12 months for pre-existing conditions and obstetrics (pregnancy)
– two months for psychiatric care, rehabilitation or palliative care – even for a pre-existing condition
– two months in all other circumstances
The cost of my health insurance is going up – what can I do?
The cost of private health insurance is regulated, with health insurers needing to apply for approval from the Minister for Health and Ageing before changing the premiums.
Premium increases usually happen in April each year, with this year's rise an average of 5.6 per cent across the Australian health funds.
If you are unhappy with the cost of your policy, you can choose to switch your insurer or policy at any time.
A private health insurance comparison may help you to find a policy that is best suited to your medical and budget requirements.
Will I have to re-serve my waiting periods if I switch funds?
You shouldn't have to serve another waiting period if you change insurers, but don't increase your level of cover – that is provided that you've already served the waiting period with your previous insurer.
Other questions you may want to consider asking are:
– Which hospitals have agreements with the insurer?
– When will my insurance cover begin?
– What will this give me that Medicare doesn't?
– What out-of-pocket expenses will I have to pay?
– How do I qualify for benefits?
– Under what circumstances will I not be eligible for benefits?
– Which hospital treatments will not be covered by this policy?
For a comprehensive list of questions to ask your health insurer, visit PHIAC's website.