Did you know you have the right to change your mind in regard to your Australian health insurance? You can choose to leave or make changes to a health insurance plan at any time. However, most consumers know that changing plans can involve paying hundreds of dollars in contributions for a service that might not have been meeting their needs.
What is a cooling off period?
Consumers don't always know that they are given a grace period after purchasing health insurance. During this 30-day 'cooling off' period, you may be able to get a refund for any premium you've already paid should you decide to cancel your recent insurance plan change, as long as you have not made any claims. The Private Health Insurance Code of Conduct protects this right.
During this grace period, you will want to look into the specifics of your plan to make sure you have made the right decision in regard to your insurance purchase.
Consumers not reading their policies, according to the Ombudsman
The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) reported that it has seen an increased number of complaints from private health insurance customers regarding their 30-day cooling off periods. Many consumers neglect to review the details of their new policy during this period.
PHIO stressed the importance of reading all insurance-related documents you receive within the first month of enrolment in a new plan. When combing through documents and determining whether or not you've made the right decision, make sure to ask the following questions:
- Is there a waiting period involved with your coverage?
- Are there any significant restrictions of which you'd previously been unaware?
- Are you getting the level of cover you'd anticipated?
- At what hospitals will you be covered by your new insurance policy?
- Will you be exempted from the Medicare Levy Surcharge?
- What co-payments will be involved in your insurance plan?
- Does the fund have a gap cover scheme? What are its limits?
You might know the answer to many of these questions already, as you probably researched your fund in full when you compared health insurance rates and purchased your plan. However, because many Australians file complaints with the Ombudsman regarding their 30-day cooling off period, it may be a good idea to double-check your research. If there are any holes or discrepancies, it's best to spot them within the first 30 days of your new plan. If you are uncertain talk to your health fund or seek some impartial advice from a health insurance consultant.