Private health insurance premiums are going up from April 1 and that’s going to affect a lot of women, many of whom might be unaware of why things are once again changing.
In short, new Government reforms are being introduced with the aim of making health insurance easier to understand and more affordable.
Overall, the reforms will be good news for women with private health insurance, especially for the 1.5 million female policy holders who admit they’re struggling to justify the cost of their health cover according to new research by iSelect.
However, in the short term it’s likely that these changes will cause confusion and may leave you wondering whether you’re still covered for what you need.
If you’re one of the 59 per cent of Australian women who have some form of private cover, then here’s what you need to know about the upcoming changes:
- Premiums are increasing
Health insurance premiums increase every year and this year they’re increasing on average by 3.25 per cent on April 1.
Over the past five years, health insurance has actually increased by over a whopping 26 per cent on average.
Alarmingly, 1 in 10 women admit they haven’t reviewed their private health insurance in over five years which means they could be paying much more for their cover than they need to.
- Introduction of Gold/Silver/Bronze/Basic product tiers
From April 1 funds will be required to categorise all hospital policies as either Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic. Under this new system there are minimum standards for hospital services and treatments to be covered under each tier and all policies within a tier must meet that minimum standard.
Clear clinical categories will also be introduced by all health funds to make it easier to understand which hospital treatment you’re covered for.
So for example, currently insurers can use any term they like relating to the birth of a child i.e. obstetrics, birth related services, pregnancy. This can make it confusing to understand the difference. The new reforms will have one set clinical category all funds must use for each benefit which will be ‘Pregnancy and Birth’.
Women with breast cancer will particularly benefit from the changes, as all medically necessary breast surgery will be included in all Bronze tier hospital treatment products and above. This may work out to be more affordable for some women than their previous cover.
Women will also have access to gynaecology in all products from Bronze and above.
- Removal of natural therapies
From April 1 some, but not all, natural therapies will no longer be covered under extras policies including Bowen therapy, naturopathy and yoga.
The good news for the three million Aussie women who say they have private health insurance for the extras is that remedial massage, Chinese medicine, myotherapy and acupuncture can still be covered under extras policies.
Pilates that’s provided by a registered physiotherapist may still be claimable under your physiotherapy limits however this could vary between funds.
- Discounts for young Aussie
If you’re under 30 and have private health insurance, you might be eligible to receive some cash back in your pocket. The new Government reforms will allow funds to offer those under the age of 30 a discount off their premium of up to 10 per cent. That could save you $200 a year on a $2,000 policy.
18-29 year olds will be eligible to receive a 2 per cent for each year they are aged under 30 when they first purchase hospital cover up to a maximum discount of 10 per cent.
- Improved travel and accommodation in rural areas
Health funds will now be able to cover travel and accommodation expenses for women who live in rural areas of Australia and need to travel to a metropolitan area for medical treatment.
Previously, travel and accommodation expenses were only covered under extras policies however from April 1 these expenses will now be covered under hospital policies.
We all know that private health insurance is confusing and let’s admit, really boring. You most likely have better things to do with your time than to worry about your policy and how it might be changing.
If you’re time poor like most of us, it might be worth speaking to a health insurance expert like iSelect who can help you cut through the confusion and explain how your policy is changing. They can compare your current policies to other options and check whether you are still getting value for money.