Check your mail: The health fund letter you don’t want to miss
Health funds are going back to basics to deliver this important piece of information to Australians…
Over the next few weeks, millions of letterboxes across Australia will be filled with one very important piece of mail—and you can’t risk missing it.
Health insurance policyholders will shortly be contacted about significant changes to health insurance policies, which must be completely implemented by April 1st, 2020.
As one of the biggest overhauls to health insurance in the last decade, Australians are being encouraged to take the time to compare their cover, and read any correspondence being sent to them by their fund. Funds will also tell you how much they are increasing your premiums by.
“All Australian health fund customers should make sure they stay on top of the new changes being announced this coming April,” explained by a spokesperson from Health Insurance Comparison. “Though some funds will only implement small changes, others are planning to carry out a major reformatting of their current policy structure. It’s vital that moving forward, all policyholders remain aware of how the changes may affect them and their families.”
The reform will replace the current system by simplifying hospital products into four tiers of cover: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic—each with different minimum levels of cover.
Basic category products will have the least cover, and Gold products the highest. There will also be two ‘Plus’ categories. Silver Plus will have more than Silver but less than Gold, and Bronze Plus more than Bronze but less than Silver.
Descriptions of what is included and excluded within a policy are also going to be standardised across all health funds. The Private Health Insurance (Reforms) Amendment Rules 2018 outlines the minimum standards set by the government for each tier.
“There has understandably been quite a bit of confusion and angst surrounding the changes. Many health funds are already sending out emails to warn their customers about perceived loss of cover under the new system,” continued Leane.
Though the changes are meant to make it less difficult for policyholders to compare different products that suit their needs, the process has also lead to the removal of some services from some policies, and some treatments altogether. Sixteen natural health therapies, such as aromatherapy, iridology and yoga, will no longer be claimable treatments.
Despite this loss, the reform will particularly benefit women with breast cancer, as all medically necessary breast surgery will be included in all Bronze tier products an above. Insurers will also be able to offer discounts of up to ten per cent for young people up to the age of 30—a discount that can be retained until the age of 41, but only if the policyholder remains on the same policy.
The maximum excess fee that can be included in policies for hospital admissions has increased from $500 up to $750 for singles, and for couples and families a significant rise of up to $1500 (from $1000).
So what does this mean for you?
The challenge we all face now is how to best work out exactly what we will, and won’t, be covered for from April 1st.
“This may present a good opportunity for policyholders to reassess what they need to be covered for once the new policies come into effect,” suggests Leane. “There is the potential that customers could actually save more on their policies if they compare before April 1. Many Australians could still be paying for unnecessary services, or have an important service not included under their old cover.”
“At Health Insurance Comparison, we see the proposed changes as a positive opportunity to better understand the system and reduce the strain on your wallet. That’s why we’re offering free comparison to all Australian policyholders before April 1st. It’s a really great time to compare, because both policies are changing and rates are increasing”.
- Consider your family history and any potential health risks moving forward.
- Consider your life stage, and whether you’re keen to start a family or no longer have children, as this could change the price of your policy.
- Consider the services you’ve claimed for previously. Do you still need the same level of cover?
- Consider comparing your current cover with a company you can trust.
Following these suggestions may help you to better understand the cover that’s right for you. Just remember to read your health fund letter when it arrives, and jump into action before April 1st!
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