BUSTING THE MYTHS ON PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
In a push for greater transparency of private health insurance, Medibank is today busting some of the top myths commonly held by consumers.
A new consumer survey reveals that while over half of Australians (54%) agree it’s difficult to understand what you are actually covered for with private health insurance, only three in 10 (32%) want the cheapest health insurance regardless of the provider.
“When it comes to private health insurance, there is still a lot of confusion and misunderstanding out there,” said Dr Linda Swan, Medibank’s Chief Medical Officer. “We want to help make the process of finding the right private health cover for individuals and families as easy as possible for Australians.”
“While the premium price is one important factor in choosing a health insurance policy, it’s clear that consumers are looking for more. Today, we are dispelling some of the most common myths and misconceptions consumers have about private health insurance so they are more informed and confident in making decisions about their cover,” said Dr Swan.
The key concerns most often raised by consumers when it comes to selecting private health insurance include confusion about what their policy actually covers; the value they get from the cost of investing in private health insurance and the need to update their policies as their situation changes.
“In the same way that Australians wouldn’t just go out and buy a house or a car without first doing the research to find the best option that suits their needs, it’s important they also do this when deciding to get private health insurance,” said Dr Swan.
“We would encourage people to consult with people they trust, along with reputable independent sources of information and advice, to choose the health insurance provider and policy that’s right for them.”
So what are some of the common myths and misconceptions Australians have when it comes to private health insurance?
Myth #1: We don’t need private health insurance in Australia – we have Medicare
While the Australian Government covers some medical expenses through the Medicare system, private health insurance means you are covered for a private room in a private hospital and you get greater choice over your hospital experience. This means you can choose your doctor, choose your hospital and choose when you’re treated. Without private health insurance, you may need to wait 75 days on average for heart surgery in a public hospital or 357 days on average for a hip replacement in a public hospital.
Myth #2: I’m fit and healthy so I don’t need health insurance
Even being fit and healthy can’t guarantee you won’t get injured, suffer an accident or medical emergency. Private health insurance protects you financially for all types of situations – from having your tonsils removed, breaking your arm or leg, or sports injuries. It also reduces waiting times for treatment and offers you the choice of your preferred doctor or surgeon. Private health insurance can also give you access to a range of non-hospital treatments such as dental, optical, physio, chiro and remedial massage – so if you’re fit and healthy, it can help you stay that way.
Myth #3: The cost of private health insurance outweigh the benefits
Health insurance offers more than just insurance. Some funds go further than others to provide you with tailored advice and support to help you maintain good health. When choosing your cover, it pays to find out what extra support and services you or your family can benefit from. For example, Medibank members can access a range of information and services including discounted gym memberships, or 24/7 expert health advice from a Medibank nurse.
Myth #4: Private health insurance is just too expensive
Consider the cost of not having private health insurance or the wrong kind of health insurance for your needs. Unfortunately, no matter how healthy you are, health incidents can happen. This could leave you with considerable out-of-pocket expense. In addition, without an appropriate level of private health insurance cover, singles who earn over $90,000 a year or couples and families who earn over $180,000 a year, may be required to pay a Medicare Levy Surcharge – meaning you will have to pay extra tax, which could be more than the cost of basic private health cover.
Myth #5: Private health funds hide things in the fine print, so even if I get sick, I’m not covered
Before signing up for a private health insurance policy it’s vital that you take the time to understand the product you are buying. Be sure to read the policy details and talk to experts to make sure there are no restrictions for common procedures. Check you have a broad range of coverage with a wide range of services available for you to access. Be aware of some of the hidden traps of health insurance, such as ‘bolstered’ product names, large numbers of restrictions and service differences.
Myth #6: Choosing the right private health insurance policy is too confusing and complex
Health insurance can differ from fund to fund, and choosing the right policy may seem overwhelming. However, if you do your research and talk to the experts, you can choose a fund that best suits your health needs. Start your search with trusted independent sources, such as the Australian Government’s Private Health Insurance Ombudsman or Canstar. Compare the policies based your needs, and then talk to individual funds for detailed information about any policy you are interested in and to understand what you are actually covered for.
Myth #7: Once I’ve found a health insurer, I don’t need to update my policy
As our lives change, so do our health needs. Whether you're single, married, have a family or are enjoying your retirement or planning a stint overseas – if your situation changes, it’s a good idea to contact your fund to discuss your options to ensure you are always covered. If you’ve just added a dog or a cat to the family, your fund might also have other insurance products, like pet or travel insurance that you can access, often at a discounted rate. It is estimated that 22% of health fund members investigate changing their policies every year.
 Nature Research (2015). Survey of n=956 Australians during August-October 2015.
 Medibank Contact Centre data on file (2015). New enquiries received to Medibank Contact Centre during 2015.
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2011). Australian Hospital Statistics 2010-2011 - National waiting times at 90th percentile.
 Nature Research (2015). Survey of n=4463 Australians during October-December 2015.
Medibank is Australia’s leading private health insurer, providing private health insurance to approximately 3.9 million people through its Medibank and ahm brands. Customers can access Medibank’s products and services through more than 80 retail stores, as well as digital and telephone platforms. Medibank also provides a range of complementary healthcare services including healthcare management services for government and corporate clients, online and telephone-based health services and the distribution of travel, life and pet insurance.
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