pregnant women

Private health fund traps affecting pregnant women

Private health fund traps affecting pregnant women and how to get your insurer to waive waiting periods and minimise price hikes before April 1.

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Pregnant women often face a dilemma when it comes to taking out private health insurance; do they or don’t they buy top hospital cover.

Falling pregnant with my first child happened faster than I had anticipated and that meant I didn’t have the level private health insurance cover I was planning on.

This freaked me out because I had always intended on indulging in a private hospital stay during what was meant to be the most painful experience of my young life.

It’s a problem that affects a lot of women as most private health insurers require you to wait 12 months before being able to claim pregnancy related expenses.

But just because this is so, doesn’t mean it has to stay this way.

In my situation, I started hunting around for a private health insurer who was able to take me and my growing family on at 9 months – and yes they are  out there.

But to my surprise, when I told my existing health insurer, HCF that I intended to leave them because I had fallen pregnant and had 8 months to go until the birth – if I was lucky – they agreed to waive the 12 month waiting period because I had been with them for several years.

So, the point to note is that before you make any big decisions in the lead up to the private health insurance hikes set for April 1, it’s time to start talking tough with your insurer.

According to financial comparison website finder.com.au 77 per cent of over 1000 people surveyed said they haven’t switched health funds in over five years.

In the last five years health insurance premiums have risen over 25 per cent or $850 based on the average annual premium. That’s a lot for most households especially when many people don’t ever use the full benefits of their cover.

Previous finder research shows members stick with the same health insurer 11.8 years on average – longer than many Australian marriages.

“Members will have received a letter or email from their health fund with how much their premium will be increasing this month” said finder.com.au spokesperson Bessie Hassan.

If you know that your health insurance is about to go up, or you’ve been caught out by pregnancy or something else, consider these two simple tips:

  • Negotiate a better deal

  • Threaten to walk if can’t get a waiting period waived and you’ve displayed loyalty

“The benefit of switching is not only will you save by moving to a cheaper health fund but you can also lock in 2017 prices if you pay your annual premium upfront, which could save you $150 – $200 on average.”

“Some health funds offer additional 2-4 per cent discounts for paying up front or by direct debit so you could save up to $500 all up with this trick,” says Ms Hassan.

“The health funds with the lowest annual increases are usually corporate or restricted industry funds so it’s worth looking outside the big four and seeing if your workplace is affiliated with a health fund that offers better value for money,” says Ms Hassan.

Health funds with the lowest premium increases this year include Doctors Health (2.28 per cent), CBHS Corporate (2.38 per cent), and ACA (2.72 per cent).

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