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Health Insurance Extras: 7 factors to consider before you decide

aldwin sab September 21st, 2011 2 comments

Investing in health insurance provides you and your family with necessary medical cover in unforeseen circumstances. You may experience greater peace of mind knowing you and your family are covered for emergencies and hospital treatment. Despite this, should you limit yourself and your family to just the basic cover? In other words, is the Extras Cover necessary?

In general, an Extras Cover allows you to use health services at any time to stay in shape – for example, dental and eye care or physiotherapy and chiropractic services. Extras can also include natural therapies and a range of healthy lifestyle options such as gym memberships, weight management or anti-smoking programs. Depending on your lifestyle, health concerns and financial situation, you may want to consider taking that Extras Cover to save the expenses of services that help improve your health in the long run.

The points below will help you figure out your best options regarding Extras Cover:

Image by Robert Couse-Baker

1. Offset policy costs through regular check-ups

Chances are you and your family will need to visit the dentist at least once a year, and the optometrist for vision correction at some stage in your lives. In this regard, dental and optical care is a popular and important feature in health insurance.

Interestingly, using dental and optical cover is a great way to offset the costs of your policy.  For example, you should consider having a preventative check-up every six months to make the most of your dental extras. This will in turn reduce the chances of more expensive treatments in the future, as dental problems are identified and fixed early. The same concept applies to eye care in terms of regular eye check-up.

2.  Calculate the real costs of extras

It is important to work out the real cost of your health insurance. There are insurance companies that offer Extras Cover for individuals for as little as $10 a month. On the other hand, a policy containing Extras Cover for a family is around $50 to $130 a month.

You can indeed save by forgoing your Extras Cover, but bear in mind that you can make massive savings in the long run by opting for the essential extras. One way is to work out how often you’d use the Extras Cover such as dentist visits, psychotherapist treatments and health management consultations, and then balance that against how much you can claim back. That way you will be able to choose Extras Cover that is truly representative of your needs, budget and likely use.

3. Review your extras

Some consumers purchase health insurance cover but fail to review it on a yearly basis. Look through what’s covered, and if you don’t happen to have an Extras Cover, consider selecting the essentials to save on separate expenses such as dental and eye care. In addition, if you play a particular sport and are therefore prone to certain injuries, it is advisable to add physiotherapy treatments in your Extras Cover.

Compare the costs of separate services against the actual cost of your health insurance premium with Extras Cover from time to time, and update your cover to ensure you are getting the most out of your policy.

4.  Consider the level of your cover

Take note that the higher the level of cover, the more extras you’ll be covered for. This means you can get back more in terms of cash when you claim.  If you and your family have a greater need for one type of extra such as dental care, ensure that you choose a policy that gives you maximum dental extras benefit for more savings in your pocket.

5.  Value for money

Some health insurance policies combine different essentials in the Extras Cover into a package that includes a range of attractive, low-cost services such as massage sessions that come included with the more standard (and pricier) personal care items such as dental and eye care. Sometimes, insurance companies also offer complementary treatments, such as gym membership for a specific period, and natural therapies. Check with your insurer for such deals.

6. Convenient claims

In keeping with technological advances, insurance companies have made it easier for their subscribers to make claims. Ensure that your health insurance provider supports the claiming and reimbursement methods you want to use. Below are various methods subscribers can choose to make insurance claims:

  • at a HICAPS or IBA terminal that allows members to swipe their private health insurance membership card
  • in person
  • online
  • by phone

You need to have your member details and extras provider receipts ready for verification purposes.

In addition, you can claim your rebate in the following ways:

  • Deduct it from your premium
  • Claim rebate on your tax return
  • Get paid in cash from the insurance office

7.  Life changing and healthy lifestyle services

Taking up Extras Cover gives you the assurance of seeing you through life changing health circumstances and helping to improve your general health. For example, expectant mothers can claim for maternity classes, and a heavy smoker who wishes to quit smoking is entitled to claim for smoking cessation support services.

Unsurprisingly, paying a higher monthly premium will give you the benefit of enjoying more services to claim against. Such services include major dental treatment, speech pathology, acupuncture, reflexology, school student cover, chiropractic and hearing aids.

Deciding whether you should purchase an Extras Cover, and what level of Extras Cover, will depend on your family’s health requirements and lifestyle. Compare health insurance quotes with and without extras every few years, to ensure that your cover meets the changing needs of you and your family while at the same time provides value for money and huge savings in the long run. After all, specialist services such as dental, physiotherapy and weight loss consultation can really take a toll on the wallet. It’s for this reason that Extras Cover can come in handy at a time when we really need it.

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