Healthy ways to reduce your health insurance premiums costs

Posted 25 April, 2017


HEALTH insurance hikes have kicked in and policy holders will notice their premiums will significantly increase but there are ways to ease costs.

While paying 12 months upfront before the April 1 premium hikes start is a well known way to escape the latest rise — on average policies will increase by 4.84 per cent — consumers may be missing out on savings simply because they didn’t know of some easy tricks to lower their costs.

But firstly Australian Unity’s chief executive of healthcare Amanda Hagan said members should never take a “set and forget” approach with their policy and it should be reviewed annually.

“Each year health insurers bring out new covers so in an increasingly competitive market it’s worth taking the time to make sure you’re getting access to the latest deals and best value cover,’’ she said.

“Consumers should also try to ensure they use more than price to compare covers.”

She warns just because a policy may be cheaper it may not give you the necessary cover.

But when it comes to cutting costs there can be simple steps to take without impacting your level of cover.

For jetsetters lucky enough to be able to take extended breaks overseas, some insurers allow customers to suspend their policies while they’re aware given they won’t be using any entitlements when they’re abroad.

Bupa health insurance’s managing director Dr Dwayne Crombie said not all insurers offer this but it pays to ask.

“Customers travelling overseas for an extended period of time — usually more than two months — can apply to suspend their policy so they are not paying premiums while out of the country,’’ he said.

“One main consideration to make sure a suspension is appropriate for an individual when travelling is to check for any tax implications that might arise from anyone, including dependants, not holding an appropriate level of hospital cover for a period during the tax year.”

It’s also worth finding out if the policy holder earns over a certain income threshold and if their cover is suspended for part of the financial year does it result in them having to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

Members can also split their hospital and extras cover and take one policy out with one insurer and another policy out with another insurer which can save costs, Mr Crombie said.

“People should consider their individual needs when selecting cover — whether they need hospital and extras, or just one or the other,’’ he said.

“In some instances that might mean holding hospital cover with one fund and extras with another.

“In any instance, customers should consider how they will use their cover and what value they are looking for, including checking any network arrangements of the health fund to reduce out of pocket expenses and not just look solely at the price of the policy.”

The Big Health Insurance Switch campaign is working to get 40,000 people to register in a bid to unlock a health discount worth $400 for families.