Most people would agree that comparing different private health insurers is too hard, which is why I’ve written these tips to help you find the right kind of private health cover for the cheapest price.
Until recently in Australia your only choice when choosing a Private Health Insurance plan for you or your family was:
- To muddle through all the different brochures and websites from different Private Health Insurance companies and make comparisons to the best of your ability
- Or give up and let a insurance broker like iSelect, HICA or Health-Link choose one for you after you filled in their questionnaire.
Both these approaches have problems:
- The do it yourself approach was pretty impossible because each health fund offered plans with such different terms and conditions that it was like comparing apples with pears.
- Insurance brokers like iSelect, HICA or Health-Link could only sell you a health insurance plan from the funds they were agents for – usually less than a 1/3rd of the 30-40 Government Registered Health Funds, so it was quite likely that you missed out on the best plan for you.
Finally in April 2007, the federal government forced the private health insurance industry to provide information on all the health insurance products they offer in a standard format at http://privatehealth.gov.au to allow for easier comparison of their products.
But by itself this won’t be enough to help you decide whether you need it because the privatehealth.gov.au site assumes that everyone will want Private Health Insurance, and doesn’t really have enough background details to explain the pros and cons of having different kinds of cover or self insuring and buying no private cover at all.
For example not everyone knows that: Under Medicare, all Australian residents who decide to be admitted as public patients are entitled to free treatment in a public hospital. Even if you have private hospital insurance you can still be treated as a public patient (for free) if you want to.
For an impartial guide I recommend reading the abc.net.au Consumer Guide to Private Health Insurance which covers all the important topics like: Hospital cover, Private VS Public hospitals, Avoiding unexpected costs, Extras cover, Self Insurance, How to Keep premiums low and Carrots and Sticks like the high-income Medicare levy, The ‘Lifetime Health Cover’ scheme and the controversial government rebate on annual health fund premiums.