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Compare Private Health Insurance for Your Needs: 7 Tips

Diana Bui September 18th, 2011 0 comments
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Investing in private health insurance gives us the assurance that we are medically covered if suddenly faced with the unexpected. However, the process of health insurance comparison and selection can be tedious and time-consuming. Your effort in taking time to do some research will pay off once you’ve gathered sufficient information to assist you in selecting the right insurance cover.

Consider the 7 tips below when you compare private health insurance options:

Image by Dan Bock

1. Be specific

Before you choose the right health insurance cover, you should be specific about what you want as this helps you to focus your search, which in turn saves time. Invest a few minutes to jot down burning questions about health insurance that need your attention. Consider the questions below to get an idea of what you should ask yourself:

  • Do I need just basic hospital cover?
  • Do I really need the extras?
  • What are the inclusions that I must have?
  • Do I want basic, medium or full cover?
  • Based on my present income, how much can I afford to pay up-front as a premium?
  • In exchange for a lower premium, am I prepared to pay an excess or co-payments?

To be realistic in selecting your cover, you should work on your monthly financial budget to help you ascertain how much of a monthly premium you can afford after deducting expenses from your projected monthly income.

2. Cut down on the frills

Health insurance products tend to accommodate many different individuals, and hence offer a wide variety of inclusions. You may find that some of the inclusions may not be appropriate for you, such as rehabilitation programs, hernia surgery or removal of tonsils.

The more inclusions your insurance product offers, the higher the premium you have to pay. It is essential to know which inclusions are irrelevant to you and avoid choosing a cover that offers a variety of inclusions. For instance, if you are past child bearing age, you should not pay for fertility and birth-related services.

Many private health insurance companies provide varying levels of cover ranging from basic to comprehensive. Choose the cover that suits you to ensure that you don’t end up paying for treatment or services that you’d never use.

3.  Avoid gap payments

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) gives Australians the privilege of 75% subsidy of medical bills by Medicare, a public health care system. The remaining 25% can be covered by private health insurers.

Generally, doctors or surgeons may charge their services at a higher rate if they wish, so the difference between the fee they charge and the MBS fee is generally referred to as the health insurance gap.

Before purchasing health insurance, it is best to check if there is an agreement in place that will allow you to reduce out-of-pocket hospital costs to avoid paying expensive gap payments. Shop around to avoid or minimise gap payments. By doing so, you can opt for a doctor or hospital that has an agreement with your health insurer so there is no gap.

4. Ambulance cover

Different states in Australia offer differing ambulance cover. For example, ambulance cover is automatically provided in Queensland and Tasmania but not in New South Wales. It is important to check the level of cover to see if you are covered for emergency ambulance, air ambulance or transfer between public and private hospitals.

5.  Avoid paying extra

Reflect on whether you need the Extras Cover. Compare the cost of Extras cover with the expense of separate dental and optical services over the course of a year. If expenses for the latter are lower than that of the Extras cover, it may be a better option to drop the Extras cover and open your own high-interest savings account to set aside money for one-off dental and optical services.

6.  Always compare health insurance

This advice may seem clichéd, but it is not something to be overlooked. Using comparison websites allows you to find the policies that cover the inclusions relevant to you which can be automatically sorted by price. You can compare private health insurance policies and quotes online with ease.

7. Seek professional advice

If your internet research has not produced sufficient answers to your questions, you should seek the advice of insurance agent representatives. By seeking professional advice, your doubts can be clarified and this will give you the opportunity to reconsider your options before making a final decision in selecting a policy that is right for you.

In addition, consult your physician about services in your policy that you must include as part of your cover. Your physician may be the best person to provide expert advice on relevant treatment that you may need in future, based on your medical history.

The variety of private health insurance policies with differing inclusions offered online can make choosing the right policy an onerous task. By focusing on your current medical needs, lifestyle and budget, you can narrow down your options to make it easier for you to decide on the plan that is most suitable for you. Consider the tips above to help you make an informed decision and cut down on unnecessary expenses.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication.

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