Around half of the Australian population have a private health insurance policy, providing benefits for a range of medical issues as they arise.
However, choosing a policy is a process of balancing cost against quality. No one wants to be overcharged, while finding that your policy does not offer the medical benefits you originally thought it did is a worst-case scenario.
It's something ABC News recently touched upon, quoting the Australian Medical Association (AMA), who late last year hit out at "junk policies" that cost little though offer less.
"Too often my members see patients who think they have cover, but don't, because they purchased a cheaper product several years ago," AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler said.
Reporter Jessica Kidd also added input on the conversation, using the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman's (PHIO) recent report to outline a rise in complaints from policyholders.
"If you're becoming increasingly frustrated with the cost of your private health fund and what you actually get for your money, then you're not alone. Complaints about private health providers are rising and the price they charge for insurance isn't the only reason customers are disgruntled," Ms Kidd began.
"Figures from the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman show patients are increasingly finding themselves caught out with insufficient insurance."
Why have there been more complaints?
However, in April, Acting Ombudsman David McGregor said the rising number of complaints has been due to more people becoming aware of the feedback process, and using an easier online process to raise issues.
"The dramatic increase in the number of unique visitors to the consumer website to be now almost a million people (899,841) is very pleasing and demonstrates that consumers are increasingly embracing one of PHIO's key messages to be diligent on their own behalf in finding out about private health insurance," he said.
Conversely, the most common customer concerns discovered in the most recent State of the Health Funds Report by the PHIO include:
- Oral advice from the health fund
- Hospital exclusions and restrictions
- Service complaints
- The waiting periods for pre-existing conditions.
Avoiding junk policies
If you are worried about being stuck with a "junk policy", it's important to know that help is on hand. HICA is independent of health funds, and we can use our networks to help people, households or businesses find individual, family or corporate health insurance policies that suit them.
Ultimately, it's about finding the balance between cost and quality, and that's why HICA professionals exist. Give one a call today on 1300 44 22 01 for free and impartial advice.