Comparing Health Funds: 10 Tips
There are a lot of private health funds available for Australians: 35 registered through the Private Health Insurance Act in 2007. With all the different choices, how can you decide which one is right for you?
Although there are sure to be many similarities between the funds, there are differences that make it worthwhile to compare health funds. Some may offer promotional discounts, while others may not cover everything you need at a price your budget can handle. Each one has its own packages that it markets to potential consumers, although some of these packages may also be customizable to suit your situation.
Consider the following tips to compare health funds and get the information you’re looking for, so you can select the option that’s right for you.
- 1 1. Talk to other private health fund customers
- 2 2. Choose combined or separate cover
- 3 3. Try a broker
- 4 4. Customise your health insurance
- 5 5. Are you eligible for a restricted-membership fund?
- 6 6. Compare treatment networks
- 7 7. What about added extras?
- 8 8. Should you ask for a higher excess?
- 9 9. Compare health insurance online
- 10 10. Be wary of very cheap health insurance
1. Talk to other private health fund customers
Getting recommendations from other people who have joined different networks is the first step to getting the inside scoop on how a fund functions and what they have to offer.
You may discover that a fund you thought sounded perfect was less so for a friend of yours, or you may find out that a fund you weren’t considering was the perfect choice for someone else for reasons you hadn’t entertained. Getting recommendations from people you know can save you a lot of time and effort combing through leaflets and surfing the web.
2. Choose combined or separate cover
It seems convenient, of course, to register under one private health fund for both hospital cover and general cover, but you actually might be able to save money by registering under a different fund for each. If you can find a fund that offers the right combined package for your needs at the best price, that may be your best bet; but don’t ignore the possibility that you might be able to get the right care at a lower price using two different funds.
3. Try a broker
Although it may sounds like you’d pay more for professional advice, a broker can actually find any hidden costs in each plan, help you determine what cover you need, and help you remove unnecessary coverage options from your plan that might have cost you a lot more.
4. Customise your health insurance
The fund may present some packages that look like they’re out of your budget, but if you talk to them about creating a package that fits your needs, you might find that they can create the right package for you at the right price.
5. Are you eligible for a restricted-membership fund?
These health funds only accept clients from particular unions, professional associations or employment groups. They may also accept family members of their existing health fund members.
6. Compare treatment networks
A fund may seem to offer very enticing incentives, until you discover that they only have ties to hospitals nowhere near your region, thus reducing the likelihood that you would make use of covered practitioners.
7. What about added extras?
A ready-made package may seem like a great deal, but when you start adding on further extras to suit your situation, you may find the cost increases. Look for packages that suit your needs without breaking your budget.
8. Should you ask for a higher excess?
This may bring down the premium you pay, allowing you to afford a higher level of cover. However, it will mean you pay higher out-of-pocket costs when you make a claim on your health insurance.
9. Compare health insurance online
Use a health insurance comparison tool on the internet to compare several different policies in one place. You’ll find that others have already done some of the legwork, saving you time and giving you information you might otherwise not have found.
10. Be wary of very cheap health insurance
There may be hidden fees or very limited cover offered, so make sure you find out exactly what services are covered under the policy and what the exclusions, limitations and restrictions are.
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