Right now you might be one of the thousands of Australians urgently hurrying to get private health cover before the June 30 tax deadline. If you are, you’ll be faced with a dazzling array of sign-up offers, from sportswear vouchers to electronic goods, offered by health insurers eager to entice you to choose them over their competitors.
While it’s nice to get something to sweeten the deal, when it comes to health insurance, your choice should be based on the quality of the cover itself, not the tempting little added extra. You need to know you’ve chosen a policy that provides value for money over the long term, and really delivers when you come to make a claim.
To help shoppers make more informed decisions, the Australian Medical Association recently placed our nation’s health funds under the microscope in the AMA 'health insurance report card'. In it, they line up all the insurers to compare how much each pays out on common medical procedures.
HBF emerged the clear winner, paying the highest benefit for nine of 22 procedures, including delivery of a baby, coronary artery bypass, and tonsil surgery.
Medibank and NIB failed to top the list for any major procedures, while Bupa were found to pay the most on just two. Regional health insurers GMHBA and Mildura health (MDHF) were found to pay the lowest benefit in 19 of the 22 procedures.
|Tonsils or Tonsils and Adenoids
||Coronary Artery Bypass
||Delivery of baby (uncomplicated)
HBF Managing Director Rob Bransby attributed HBF’s performance to its not-for-profit status and a commitment to delivering more back to members.
“We make choices based on what’s best for our members, rather than what will drive a share price. That means not leaving members with large out of pocket costs when they need to claim. It also means only raising premiums by enough to ensure we continue covering these claims. We saw this evidence at rate review time, when HBF had the lowest premium increase of any major health fund.”
AVERAGE PREMIUM INCREASES 2016
||Average Increase with rate protection
|Bupa Australia Pty Ltd
|Medibank Private Ltd
|Industry weighted average
|NIB Health Funds Ltd
|HBF Health Ltd
Mr Bransby supports the AMA’s stance on ‘junk policies’, hitting out at insurers who take advantage of consumers looking for lower premiums.
“Some insurers lure people in with what looks like cheap health cover but which will almost certainly let them down when they need to use it. It means some health insurance members who thought they were covered for treatments are being left with large out of pocket costs and a nasty taste in their mouth.”
The AMA’s report also cautions consumers against comparator websites that promise to find them the best deal.
It cites the ACCC which points out that “[comparator websites] don’t necessarily cover every insurer or every type of policy available, and they may have commercial relationships with, or receive financial inducements from, listed businesses”. In other words - comparator sites don’t show every health fund, and receive financial incentives from the funds they do promote.
The AMA believe a better approach is to visit the Australian government website privatehealth.gov.au for independent advice about all health insurers.
Choosing a health fund is a big decision. You are choosing a health partner for yourself and your loved ones. So if you’re shopping around for health cover at tax time, take your time to find the fund that’s right for you. Health insurance is a long-term commitment and you want a health fund that will be your partner for life, not just till the end of the financial year.
For more information and to discover why more Australians are choosing HBF visit Get More.