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The start of Autumn every year is a good reminder to make sure you’re on the right private health insurance plan. Why Autumn though?
On 1 April, premiums for health insurance rise by an average of 4.84%. So if you don’t take the time review your policy, not only could you be worse off financially but you could end up with the wrong level of cover – something that could cost you much more in the long run.
Luckily, it doesn’t take long to make sure you’ve got the right health insurance plan in place, and to ensure you’re getting as much as value for money as possible. Laura Crowden, spokesperson for iSelect, has a few tips to help you on your way:
- Play the offset game. Many people who shop around ahead of April 1 find that they not only offset the premium rise by getting a better value with a new plan or provider but even save money. With many providers in the market, some are offering attractive deals in a bid to win your business. Just make sure you’re not sacrificing coverage for savings.
- Make sure your policy suits your life stage and medical needs, especially if they are regularly changing. A careful review of your policy might reveal that you’re covered for the birth of a child, which is perfect if you’re trying for a baby but is a needless cost if you’re not.
- That said, make sure you know when you can claim on your policy. Certain policies from certain insurers come with a ‘waiting period’ during which you’re not allowed to claim for specific treatments. These can be as short as 2 months or as long as a year, and it’s vital you know what yours are. Remember, any waiting periods you have already served are protected by law if you switch to an equivalent or lower level of cover.
- Waiting periods are protected. Many people are afraid to switch to a better deal because they think they’ll have to reserve waiting periods. This simply isn’t true. Any waiting periods you have already served are protected by law if you switch to an equivalent or lower level of cover.
- Be mindful of Lifetime Health Cover (LHC). If you haven’t got private hospital cover by the 1st July following your 31st birthday, you’ll pay an annual 2% extra in addition to your hospital cover. That 2% accumulates every year, meaning that if you wait until you’re 35 to take out hospital cover, you’ll be paying 10% extra. The loading doesn’t stop until it reaches 70% – so if you’re approaching your 31st birthday and you’re not insured, now is the time to think about it.
- Reconsider your extras. Services provided outside of hospital cover such as dentist visits, physiotherapy and glasses are all classified as insurance ‘extras’. Take a look at what extras are included in your cover and ask yourself if you’re definitely going to take advantage of them. If you use a range of different extras it’s worth investigating a flexible extras policy that combines your separate extras limit into a single annual limit for you to use across different services.
- Regular gym visitor, or planning to be one? Did you know that some health insurers refund you for keep fit schemes? Look at how much you’re paying for your gym membership and your health insurance, and ask your insurer whether there is a rebate system in place. If they don’t, think about switching to a fund that does to help you save some money.
- Got some savings? Pay up front to lock in this year’s rates for another year. If you pay your annual premium upfront before April 1, you can lock in your 2016 premium for another 12 months. You’ll take a bit of a hit to your wallet now, but it’ll do you good in the long run.
In short, there’s a bit to think about when you’re reviewing your health insurance, especially if you want to save some money. If you’re on a budget and your health needs are changing, it’s worth addressing before 1 April to make sure you and your bank account remain as healthy as possible.