If you’re in a private health fund and covered for “Extras”, do you know when your benefits re-set? Are you sure you’re in the best value for money cover for your needs? Are you paying too much for the lowest benefits? You’ve been paying insurance premiums that always increase, have you made the best use of your insurance?
It seems that all insurers are keen to get your business at first, but then you become less of a priority the longer you are with them. Premiums are more expensive if you’ve been loyal for 10 years than if you’re changing companies and the benefit you receive when claiming seems to stay exactly the same even though your premium goes up every year.
It’s time consuming, confusing and difficult to research the market and compare coverage. If you were cynical, you would think that the insurers make it this way on purpose. Then you have the comparison sites, who use cute mammals to get your details and then recommend a limited number of companies to you and pocket a commission for doing so.
So what can you do?
Shop around yourself.
It takes time and there are a lot of health funds to compare. The Federal Government has made it easier by standardising the description (Gold, silver, bronze levels) that funds use for their products. It pays to compare every year. Insurers rely on that being a massive hassle and so you just end up shrugging your shoulders and continuing your direct debit year on year without knowing there are much better offers around. On the other hand you can….
Use a comparison site.
There are big ones that you’ll already know of. They recommend a limited number of products, usually in the 3 biggest funds controlling 70% of the market. A new one that I’ve just used is Fair Healthcare Alliance*. You will speak to a real person in Victoria. In 25 minutes and 2 phone calls, they found a like for like product with a $500 saving for me. One thing they also do is compare companies that don’t have “preferred providers” so you can continue to choose your own Physio. Big funds are increasingly trying to squeeze independent allied health professionals by lowering benefits paid to our patients unless we sign up to be a “preferred provider”. “Preferred” by the health fund because providers have to agree to insurers fixing fees at a level which is below the market rate. I’m always adamant I insure my car with a company that lets me choose my own repairer, so I know I’m getting a quality repair with no shortcuts and the best workmanship, I do the same with my health insurance. And that’s why we don’t sign up with any health fund for these schemes at Parkside. For more Info read a previous blog post here
Split your extras.
If your family uses Physio and the pooled services every year, shop around for separate extras cover and see if you can get a product with higher benefits. There is no law against holding Hospital and Extras with different companies
Use a “restricted entry” fund if you qualify.
If you or a family member work in a bank or large corporate, education, first responder, defence etc there are funds that you may qualify for which give exceptional benefits for the premiums paid. They consistently show up on our payment sheets with the highest benefits. Be aware that “not for profit” doesn’t always guarantee the best product. It’s well worth seeing if you qualify for one of the “restricted funds” based on your industry or employment.
Use it or Lose It.
You pay a premium for insurance. You get a pooled allowance for a family of benefits (Physio, chiro, osteo, massage etc). If you don’t use this pool of funds it doesn’t roll over, it’s gone for ever and resets, usually on January 1. If you do have an injury or niggle that needs Physio, then getting started before the end of the year means you’ll have the full pool of extras available to claim again for 2021 if you need it.