PRIVATE health insurance members should prepare for premium renewals arriving in their mailbox or inbox in the coming weeks ahead of more price increases.
Policies will rise by an average of 3.25 per cent from April 1 amid significant reforms to private health including the reclassification of hospital cover to make it easier to compare.
Despite the latest price rise being the lowest increase since 2001, thousands of members have ditched their cover in recent months as they struggle with soaring costs.
Australian Prudential and Regulation Authority statistics found at the end of December 11.2 million people had hospital cover — a fall of 12,370 compared to the previous quarter.
About 13.5 million Australians had some form of extras cover — an increase of 3470 people.
When renewal notices arrive, they will show what your premiums will rise to on April 1 and also spell out the insurance rebate that you receive, if applicable.
Bupa director of customer experience Sally Damiani urged members to examine their renewal notice carefully.
“From April 1 the new premium kicks in, then some of the new features including the excess increase and age-based discounts take effect,” she said.
The new optional reforms include:
• Discounts on hospital cover up to 10 per cent for those aged under 30.
• Members could choose to have hospital cover excesses increased from $500 to $750 for singles and $1000 to $1500 for couples or families.
• Travel and accommodation benefits for those travelling long distances for hospital treatment.
Medibank’s chief customer officer, David Koczkar, said not all insurers would be adopting the optional reforms, but its fund and ahm (part of Medibank) would.
He urged people to check with their funds of any changes that could impact their policy.
“Ask your insurer for a cover review,” Mr Koczkar said.
“We are doing proactive check-ins and personalised cover reviews for our members.”
Funds also have until April 1 next year to reclassify hospital cover for members into gold, silver, bronze and basic cover.
This is designed to make it easier to work out what is included in the cover.
Extras cover will not be reclassified.
For many households private health pulls on the purse strings, and Ms Damiani said most of its members opted to pay their premiums in fortnightly instalments.
However, members could save by paying a full year’s premium before April 1 to escape the upcoming price hike.
NIB chief executive officer Mark Fitzgibbon warned while the price of a policy was important “so is making sure you’ve covered for the things you want or may need”.
HEALTH INSURER INCREASES APRIL 1
• ahm – 3.3 per cent.
• Australian Unity – 3.35 per cent
• Bupa – 2.99 per cent
• Defence Health – 4.5 per cent
• GMHBA – 3.31 per cent
• Health.com.au – 3.96 per cent
• HBF – 1.94 per cent
• HCF – 3.2 per cent
• Medibank – 3.3 per cent
• nib – 3.38%
Originally published as Latest private health insurance changes