The Queensland Consumers Association says consumers need to be aware that the increase in some health insurance premiums on 1 April may be well above their fund’s average.
Association spokesperson, Ian Jarratt says the premium for one fund’s hospital only policy will increase by a massive 16.9% even though the average for the fund is only 6.6%.
He says consumers should not assume that their premium is increasing by the fund average and should work out the percentage themselves using the current and new premium costs provided by their fund.
Consumers looking for better value for money should shop around to get the best deal with their existing fund, or other funds, before or after 1 April.
And, to avoid an increase on 1 April, an option for some consumers is to pay up to a year’s premiums in advance.
However, it is important to check that the cover provided matches your requirements. When you have to make claim is not the time to discover you are not covered, or have to make unexpected excess payments, or will face substantial gap payments.
The Association says the Federal government should require funds to provide customers with the percentage change as well as the current and the new premium. This will increase consumer knowledge of, and engagement with, the complex health insurance market, and increase competition between funds.
The Association also wants the Federal government to:
publish information about the range of each fund’s premium changes, not just the average, and
show on its independent comparison website http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/ all premiums payable after 1 April well before that date so that consumers can use the website to shop around when funds send out new premium information. Currently, all the new premiums are only shown on the website after 1 April.