Confused about the recent changes to health insurance? Here’s what it’s all about
What the new health insurance reforms mean for you, and why it matters
Health funds have been talking about it. Your local GP mentioned it at your recent appointment, and even friends and family may have reminded you that your favourite alternative therapies have been cut (ouch). Or maybe you missed the whole thing. That’s okay, too.
The most important thing is that you actually understand what changed, why, and what the reforms mean for you and your family.
And if April 1 has brought nothing but confusion, you’re not alone. According to early reports, we’re only a few months in and Australians are still just as lost as ever*.
A quick recap: The reforms have brought about plenty of positive change, including benefits for rural Aussies, greater access to women’s health and mental health services, a neat new system for categorising hospital insurance policies and much, much more. But as always, you can only reap the benefits if you understand what’s available to you.
If you have questions about your eligibility for specific health insurance benefits or want to compare cover, simply fill out your details below, and a friendly adviser will be in touch to clarify.
So let’s go over the basics…
Who is affected?
- Young people
- Aussies accessing mental health treatments
- Aussies who use natural or alternative therapies
- Rural Aussies, or anyone travelling long distance for hospital treatment
What has changed?
- Health insurers are now required to categorise their hospital policies into four tiers: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic (from the most comprehensive level of coverage to the most basic.)
- Insurers can also offer ‘Plus’ policies, which are policies considered higher than the minimum requirement for a tier, but not quite high enough to reach the next tier. These will be sold as Basic Plus (+), Bronze Plus (+), and Silver Plus (+) products. There may still be a fair bit of variation between health funds and what types of policy inclusions and partner benefits they offer, so don’t make the mistake of thinking one size will fit all**. Our advisers at Health Insurance Comparison are fully qualified, with plenty of experience in the industry, so they can help guide you if you’re unsure of what your policy includes, or if you have specific services you want covered. Don’t miss out on them!
- The new product tiers have also improved cover for women’s health services. If you select a health insurance policy in the Bronze or Silver tier, you’ll have guaranteed cover for medically necessary breast reconstruction, ovarian and breast cancer treatment, and gynaecological services. With the Gold tier, women are guaranteed cover for pregnancy and assisted reproductive services, like IVF. Some insurers may also elect to offer pregnancy cover at a lower level, such as with a Silver Plus policy.
- Aside from the new categories, we’ve also seen more considerable assistance for rural Australians. People living in regional and rural Australia often have to travel long distances to get medical treatment, and it can be costly. Insurers can now choose to offer travel and accommodation benefits with hospital cover to those living in regional and rural Australia. This is intended to help rural Aussies get the treatment they need by easing the pressure of hefty travel and accommodation costs.
- Before April 1 2019, maximum excess levels for singles were $500 and $1000 for families. This was the case for nearly 20 years! A notable change, consumers can now choose to raise the excess on their hospital cover to a maximum of $750 for singles and $1500 for families. This could result in a saving on premiums of $200 per year for singles and $350 for families.
- Some natural therapies are no longer claimable on extras such as: Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, western herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, pilates, yoga, tai chi, rolfing, shiatsu and reflexology. If any of these services are important to you, you’ll now have to pay for them out of pocket. The former Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer chaired a review and found that there was no clear evidence that these therapies work, which is why they have been removed. On a brighter note, this should help contribute to the reduction of health insurance premium increases.
- Reforms to support mental health went into effect, making it easier to access mental health and addiction services. Basic and middle-level hospital cover typically offered restricted cover for mental health, making treatment very expensive for policyholders who need care. Upgrading to a higher level of cover often came with a two-month waiting period, so patients struggled to get the attention they needed right away. The reforms now make it possible for those with basic or mid-level hospital cover to upgrade their policy without serving a waiting period. Note that this exemption can only be used once.
- Health insurers can now choose to offer a youth discount for Aussies aged 18 to 29. This initiative is to encourage people to take out hospital cover at an early age by making it more affordable. Policyholders can get an age-based discount of up to 10% when they take out a hospital policy before the age of 30. That discount rate will stay in place until the age of 41, provided you remain on the same policy.
While these changes have made health insurance easier to understand and more accessible, there’s still a considerable amount of competition within the health insurance industry, and as a result, it’s easy to feel stuck at times.
That’s why many Australians choose to compare their cover with Health Insurance Comparison to ensure their policy is still working as it should. By filling in a few details below, you’ll have access to free health insurance quotes based on your budget and policy needs, from a panel of 8 leading Australian health insurers. Not only is the service a huge time saver, but it also helps Aussies regain confidence in their cover, ensuring they’re getting the most from it. And remember, a policy that worked for you a year ago might not be the best option available now.
Since Apri 1, 2019, many existing policies – customers’ current products – would have been categorised into the new product tiers (though some health funds won’t have applied the full transition until April 2020.)***
This means that features and benefits could have changed overnight.**** If customers haven’t received any correspondence, it could be a good idea to get in contact with their providers and find out more.
Get Started Now:
Step 1: Select your state below.
Step 2: After answering a few questions, you will have the opportunity to compare quotes in your area and could be eligible for significant savings.