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How to Compare Health Insurance

Figuring out what you need from your health insurance means thinking about what you and your family will need now and into the future. We've broken down the basics of health cover and called out the questions you should ask so that you can weigh up your options and make a good decision.

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Which kind of policy suits you?

Your health fund should have range of options based on different needs, like your health needs, family status or stage in life. Some policies are better for covering singles or couples. Others might be great for single parents or young families. Make sure there are options to suit your particular circumstances.

Hospital cover, extras cover or both?

You can choose to take up one or the other, or to package your cover. What's covered and how much you can claim for depends on a few factors, including the type of treatment and the type of policy that you have.

Hospital Cover

This cover helps to pay for treatment you receive as a hospital in-patient, for treatments that Medicare pays a benefit towards. Depending on the cover that you choose, you may have to pay an excess or a per-day payment, or both, towards your hospital treatment. It's important to know that your excess is paid when you check in to hospital.

Extras Cover

When you go to a provider for treatment, the insurer usually pays some of the cost. The amount paid depends on the level of cover you choose. There's often a limit on the amount you can claim each year, and sometimes there's a lifetime limit.

What waiting periods would you serve?

When you join a health fund and take up either hospital or extras cover, there will generally be a wait before you can claim on some items. Make sure you’re across which ones will apply to you.

For example, if you haven’t had hospital cover before or you’ve recently changed cover to include new or upgraded services and you have a pre-existing condition, you’ll have a 12 month waiting period before you can use Hospital cover for treatment for that condition.

When you switch between health funds to a similar level of cover, you probably won’t have to re-serve waiting periods you’ve already served again.

  • Find out the waiting periods for different types of treatment.
  • Understand that you'll have a 12 month waiting period before you can use your hospital cover for treatment for a pre-existing condition.

Should I just get the cheapest cover?

Some people like to get the minimum cover but that doesn’t always mean they’re getting value for money. Paying a little more for a lot more cover could be worth it for you.

When choosing Extras cover, think about what kind of treatments you'll use throughout the year. Commonly used services include Dental check ups, getting new glasses or contact lenses and visits to the chiro or physio. What's covered, where you can get your treatment and how much you'll be able to get back varies a lot between health funds, so take the time to make sure you know what you'll be entitled to.

  • Make sure you understand what you're paying for.
  • Paying slightly more could get you cover that's a better fit for your situation.
  • Choose cover that you're going to use.

How easy is it to make a claim?

No one likes red tape. Making a claim should be as simple as possible. Paperwork is unavoidable for some kinds of claims. For others, you should be able to do it on-the-spot at your Extras provider, online or even on your smartphone.

How easy will it be to make changes to your health cover?

You’re not the same person you were yesterday. And you won’t be the same person tomorrow (or next year for that matter). Maybe you’ll start thinking about having a family. Maybe the kids will leave home. Perhaps you’ll head overseas for a year or two. Or maybe you’ll simply find a better deal and want to switch cover.

  • Find out whether you can suspend your policy.
  • Find out how easy it is to make changes or switch to a different policy.

What other types of insurance are on offer?

Some health funds let you bundle your insurance and may offer member discounts on other types of insurance that you might want. Think pet, travel, or life insurance.

  • Find out whether members get a special discount for additional types of insurance.

Ready to explore cover options?

With so many options to choose from, picking the right cover can be overwhelming but we've kept it simple.

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