Is there anything more important than your health?
Among the many resolutions you'll make for this New Year, there's one you need to stick to – getting clued up on private health insurance.
The combination of government reforms and premium increases means that 2019 will be a year of great change in the world of private health. Here's what to expect from the next 12 months.
1. Private health reforms in 2019
While some of the reforms announced in October 2017 are already in force, there a number that will be enacted in 2019. Among the most notable are:
Age-based discounts will be available from April 1, 2019 and are designed to attract more young people to take out private health cover. If you're aged under 30, therefore, you will be eligible for a reduced premium when you first buy hospital cover.
Age-based premium discounts come into force on April 1, 2019.
The scheme works on a scalable basis, with cumulative discounts of 2 per cent depending how far below 30 you are. For example, a 29 year-old would be able to access the minimum 2 per cent while a 28 year-old would get double that. This continues to rise to a maximum of 10 per cent for 18-25 year olds.
Categories of private hospital insurance
Another change that will come in on April 1, 2019 is the categorisation of private health insurance hospital products. This will create four categories – basic, bronze, silver and gold, with the aim of making it easier for you to compare different policies.
For women especially this reform has important benefits. In-hospital gynaecological procedures as well as breast cancer-care and medically necessary breast surgery will feature in all products in the bronze tier or higher.
Higher maximum excesses
We'll discuss the 2019 increases to private health premiums further in point two, however these will also be directly affected by the reforms.
In order to counteract the rising costs of premiums the government has raised the maximum permitted excesses. In practice this means a jump from $500 to $750 for singles, and from $1,000 to $1,500 for families and couples. Having the option of accepting these higher excesses enables you to buy products with reduced premiums. Again, this change is due to come into action on April 1.
Knowing how the reforms will affect private health insurance in 2019 has two key benefits:
- Ensuring you're fully covered: With so much change, it's crucial that your policy still covers you for everything you need it to. Our comprehensive guide to the reforms is a great way to find out exactly how they will affect you.
- Getting the better deals: A number of the initiatives are aimed at reducing the costs of private health insurance, or making it easier for you to make informed decisions. HICA can simplify this process further by doing the legwork for you and finding the policies that match your specific needs.
2. Private health premium increases in 2019
We saw premiums rise by 3.95 per cent in 2018, and 2019 is set for another increase. This trend of growing costs stretches back more than a decade, and has become a point of concern for consumers across the country.
There are numerous reasons behind the recurring increases, with one of the main ones being greater numbers of people claiming on their health insurance. For example, in 2017 health funds paid $14.86 billion on hospital treatment alone, up 4 per cent on the previous year, according to Private Healthcare Australia.
These increases are inevitable, so the most important thing you can do is be prepared. Rather than leaving it to the last minute to review whether your cover is delivering you true value for money, be proactive. Australia has over 35 registered private health funds, with literally thousands of products on offer, so if you think you could be doing better, the time to act is now.
HICA has over 35 years' experience offering advice to Australians to help them find the policy best suited to their unique situation, and we can help you too.
3. What can HICA do for you in 2019?
We research the best insurance deals on the market and present you with a number of policies to choose between. We base our recommendations on information you give us, either on a phone call with one of our consultants or through our assessment form.
Crucially, you don't pay higher premiums or any additional fees for using our services. To find out more about how HICA can help you navigate the changes to private health insurance in 2019, get in touch with our team today.