Health Insurers are Increasing their Top-Level Policy Prices by over 30%

Original media release from CHOICE (15/02/2024).

CHOICE has found health insurers, including the five biggest funds, are significantly increasing the price of premium hospital cover at a much higher rate than the advertised averages. 

“Over the past three years, average health insurance premiums across all levels went up by 8.6%, according to government data. However, our analysis found that the cost of top-level Gold hospital policies has increased by over 30% on average,” says CHOICE health insurance expert, Jodi Bird. 

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“Many Australians need Gold cover for a range of specific, high-level health needs, including mental health management, rehabilitation, palliative care and more. However, this cover is becoming increasingly unaffordable for those who need it most,” says Bird. 

When CHOICE compared Gold Hospital policies at the five biggest funds available to new customers in February 2021 with those available in 2024, we found prices had skyrocketed:* 

  • HBF’s Gold cover jumped by 46.9%
  • Medibank’s Gold cover jumped by 43% 
  • NIB’s Qantas Gold cover jumped by 36.4%
  • Bupa’s Gold cover jumped by 35.3%
  • HCF’s Gold cover jumped by 34.4%

“Health insurers can only increase premiums once a year, but at any time they can close policies to new members and release new, more expensive policies that offer basically the same cover but with a slightly different name. Our analysis shows several insurers are using these sneaky tactics to jack up the prices,” says Bird. 

For instance, in June 2022, HBF closed their ‘Gold Hospital’ policy in WA which cost $215 per month. They then released their ‘Gold Hospital Elevate’ policy to new members at $280 per month, which is essentially the same cover with a 30% increase in cost.

“We also found that some insurers retained their more affordable Gold policies but didn’t show these policies to new customers on their website. Instead, they only promoted their newer, pricier policies,” says Bird. 

“We recommend regularly evaluating your health insurance to ensure it’s still the right one for you. You might find that it’s worth downgrading to a more affordable level of cover. However, if you are thinking of upgrading to a Gold policy, such as if you’re having a baby or need a hip or knee replacement, we strongly suggest shopping around to find the best cover to suit your needs,” says Bird. 

“If you are considering upgrading, don’t just upgrade to a policy offered by your current fund. We often find the best deals are available at smaller funds. If you’re unsure on how to find the best policy, try CHOICE’s health insurance comparison tool, where you can compare over 40 insurers to find the best fit for you,” says Bird. 

Read the full story here:

Use CHOICE’s health insurance comparison tool here: