A guest post by Sophie Ryan, iSelect spokesperson.
If you’re one of the Aussies with private health insurance who avoided a rise to their premiums earlier this year, there’s a good chance that temporary financial relief is about to come to an end.
Yes, we hear you. Not another price increase. But before you hit the panic button, read on as we explain what you need to know about increasing private health insurance premiums, and detail the ways you could save money or find better value on your policy.
1. Most of Australia’s biggest health insurers will increase their prices on November 1st
While some health funds have already increased their premiums for 2022, Medibank/ahm, Bupa, nib and HCF (Australia’s four largest health funds) will increase their rates on November 1st.
It comes after these funds deferred their annual premium increases from earlier in the year due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
Funds are required to let their members know when the price of their policy will go up. So, use this as your prompt to shop around and compare your policy to make sure you are still getting good value.
2. This year’s average premium rise is the lowest in years, but an increase is still an increase
This year’s average premium rise is 2.70 per cent, which is the lowest in years. However, an increase is still an increase, and many households are already struggling with the cost of private health insurance (on top of other everyday expenses).
It’s important to note that 2.70 per cent is an average only. Medibank/ahm will increase premiums by an average of 3.10 per cent, Bupa by an average of 3.18 per cent, HCF by 2.72 per cent on average and nib by 2.66 per cent on average.
3. Consider switching (not ditching!)
Given recent price hikes across the board (think interest rates, petrol, and fresh produce), it’s understandable that for many Aussies, private health cover could be on the chopping block. Before you get rid of your cover, think hard about the benefits it provides.
Having private health insurance could mean having peace of mind in case the unexpected happens. It’s about knowing you and your loved ones will have private care in the event of a serious health issue that is covered by your policy. Eligible hospital cover may provide shorter waiting times for elective surgeries – especially important these days, given the public backlog in many states.
Policy holders worried about the rising cost of premiums should first see if they can switch – rather than ditch – and save money on their health insurance. Give a comparison service like iSelect a call and compare your policy before November 1 to see if you could save money. * They can compare your current policy against other options from a range of policies and providers and if you do decide to switch, they’ll help you take care of the whole process, saving you time and effort. Woohoo!
But what about waiting periods? There can be a lot of confusion around this and understandably so. Health insurance overall can be puzzling! A lot of us think that if you switch health funds, you’ll need to re-serve hospital waiting periods. The good news is that isn’t always true! Any hospital waiting periods you’ve already served will be protected as long as you switch to a lower or equal level of cover. If you increase your level of cover, you’ll only need to serve waiting periods on the services you’re adding to your policy.
So, now that you’re armed with information, sit down and take a few minutes to review your private health insurance today.
iSelect Health Disclaimer
* iSelect does not compare all health insurance providers or policies in the market. The availability of policies will change from time to time. Not all policies available from its providers are compared by iSelect and due to commercial arrangements, your stated needs and circumstances, not all policies compared by iSelect will be available to all customers. Some policies and special offers are available only from iSelect’s contact centre or website. To view iSelect range of providers, visit: www.iselect.com.au/partners
 Source: Page 8, figure 1 of this report: Private health insurance report 2020-21.pdf (accc.gov.au)
 Source: https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/delivering-australias-lowest-private-health-insurance-premium-change-in-21-years
 Source: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/average-annual-increases-in-private-health-insurance-premiums
 Sources: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/myhospitals/sectors/elective-surgery Queensland elective surgery patients face painful waits due to public hospital strain – ABC News Data reveals the ‘unseen tragedy’ of COVID-19 pandemic as thousands wait longer for elective surgery – ABC News