Top tricks to save as health insurance costs increase

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By Sophie Ryan, iSelect spokesperson

Love checking out a new restaurant and hitting the town? How about a sneaky after-work cocktail on a Friday? Perhaps you’ve had to cut back on fun nights out recently and change things up for more affordable options. As the cost-of-living crunch continues to bite, you wouldn’t be the only one! 

A recent study commissioned by comparison service iSelect found that 81 per cent of Aussies surveyed say their household is finding it difficult to manage extra cost-of-living expenses with price hikes across the board, while 28 per cent say it’s very difficult to manage and are making cutbacks wherever they can.

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately millions of Aussies with private health insurance could be in for another price hike in October, as some of the country’s biggest funds including Bupa, nib, GMHBA/Frank, Defence Health (which combined have almost 40 per cent market share) increase their prices. 

The bright side? This presents a perfect opportunity for you to consider reviewing your health cover and seeing if you can save money by switching. Keep reading as we reveal our top tricks to try now.

  1. Think about switching it up

We’ve just touched on switching, but let’s explain further. Some people can end up paying too much for unsuitable cover because they sign up for a health insurance policy and don’t think twice about it for years. Your health and circumstances can change, so sticking with the same plan or provider for a long period of time could cost you, by paying for cover that no longer suits your situation, as well as unwanted annual premium increases.

The study found that Aussies surveyed who switched their health insurance plan and/or provider within the last two years, most (87 per cent), either saved money or found better value and we calculated the average amount they saved is $448.80.1 It’s not just about saving money though, there’s a chance you could be paying for things you don’t need. For example, young people could be covered for cataracts or hip replacements, or retirees still paying for pregnancy cover. 

  1. Ask yourself if you need extras or think about temporarily downgrading  

We mentioned that some of Australia’s biggest health funds will increase their prices from October, while others have already put up their prices. The average premium increase across all funds in 2023 is 2.9 per cent, or around an extra $134 for families and $60 for singles annually.

iSelect General Manager – Health, Andres Gutierrez, said it may not sound like much, but every dollar counts as households deal with significant cost-of-living pressures. 

“It’s understandable that some Aussies will be questioning whether they can afford to maintain their private health insurance,” Andres said. 

“If you’re struggling to make ends meet, some may decide that downgrading their level of cover – even temporarily – is a better option than simply cancelling it altogether.”

Another option is to consider removing your extras cover and going with hospital only cover (if you’re not using them). On extras, you could also think about flexible products that combine your separate extras limits into a single annual limit for you to use across different services.   

  1. Look for a deal

Now for our final trick, and that’s to hunt around for any deals or offers. 

Some health funds are offering incentives at the moment such as free weeks, or waiting periods waived for some extras. So, now could be a good time to switch and bag yourself a deal. Remember, don’t let the cheapest deal cloud your judgement. Just because it’s the ‘cheapest’, it doesn’t mean the policy is suited to your needs, which is key!

Confused? We know, private health insurance can be complex! The trained consultants at a comparison service like iSelect* can help you. They’ll take the time to understand what is important to you and what you are looking for in a policy, and then help to compare options from their range of funds and select a policy suited to your health needs and budget. 

iSelect Health disclaimer 

*iSelect does not compare all health insurance providers or policies in the market. The availability of policies will change from time to time. Not all policies available from its providers are compared by iSelect and due to commercial arrangements, your stated needs and circumstances, not all policies compared by iSelect are available to all customers. Some policies and special offers are available only from iSelect’s contact centre or website. Click here to view iSelect’s range of providers