HEALTH INSURANCE SAVINGS GUIDE: Refunds up to $1800 - Beat the Elective Surgery Backlog - Top 5 Ways to Save on Premiums - Rebates & Relief Packages
👍 NEW: COVID-19 REFUNDS & DISCOUNTS EXPLAINED 👍
Since Coronavirus hit, health funds and their industry lobby group have been making noises about refunding some premiums because many services have been unavailable.
But it's now clear that a lot of that money has been spent on COVID-19 relief for customers, so there are two ways to get some money back from your fund:
1. Refunds & Discounts available to ALL customers
Small fund AIA Health Insurance made the first move on this front, returning 50%-100% of Extras premiums to members for the period Apr-Dec, minus any claims paid. AIA says this adds up to a maximum of $900 back for a single and $1800 for a family. It’s also available to NEW customers.
AHM Health Insurance, which is owned by Medibank, has also said it will roll over most members’ unused Extras limits into the new financial year (excluding optical, orthodontic and non-annual limits). For most funds, these Extras limits expire on January 1, but for AHM they usually expire on July 1 - except for this year when they will be rolled over and added to your limits for the coming year.
NIB and Medibank have previously talked about giving some money back to all members, but not until October.
2. Refunds & Discounts of around $800 for customers hit by COVID-19
NEW INFO: The prospect of large cash rebates for ALL customers due to COVID-19 is looking more and more unlikely, with Medibank’s CEO saying they’ve had no “billion dollar windfall”.
BUT CEO Craig Drummond also revealed that the country’s 2nd biggest health fund has spent half a billion dollars already on COVID-related relief including premium reductions averaging $800p.a. for customers requesting relief.
So here’s the hot tip for health fund members: if you’ve been financially disadvantaged AT ALL by COVID-19, ask your fund for relief. You might get a 50% discount for 6 months (Medibank & AHM), you might get a 6-month premium suspension but retain some cover for certain procedures (NIB), or you might have ‘Involuntary unemployment assistance’ included in your policy which covers your premiums while out of work (HCF, which also offers suspensions).
In many cases you can pay nothing for months but remain covered for SOME treatments such as COVID-related procedures.
👉 Special Offer: $400 eGift Card Deal with HCF.
Health Insurance customers feeling the pinch? See if you can get suspension/rebate/discount before you cancel!— KillBills (@KillBillsBook) July 28, 2020
Up to $900 per person now available if you're a member with @medibank @ahmhealth AIA Health Insurance @nibhealthfunds @Bupa @hcfaustralia https://t.co/9wcwt2iWY3
ELECTIVE SURGERY IS BACK! SO HOW CAN YOU BEAT THE QUEUE?
Elective surgery is cancelled again in Victoria. In other states it's back on, which is a relief for those on the waiting list. But the wait could now be even longer than usual, especially in the public system, with a HUGE backlog of 400,000 cancelled operations and estimates of 10 months or more to clear it.
This comes on top of recent news reports suggesting elective surgery waiting times in some public hospitals were already up to 300 days in extreme cases, even before COVID-19 hit.
The most recent estimates are that while private hospital waiting times should return to normal by March next year, public hospital waits may not return to pre-pandemic levels until June 2022.
Long story short: in the months to come, those with Private Health Insurance will have an even bigger advantage than they used to have, because it means you have access to the shorter queues in the private hospital system.
But these are tough times and there’s no need to pay top dollar to access the private system. So here are my top 5 ways to try and save a few hundred dollars on health cover.
⚕️ UPDATED: MY TOP 7 WAYS TO SAVE ON HEALTH INSURANCE ⚕️
Whether you’re one of those 20% who are now under-employed, or you’re just keen to save on this bill, there are a few classic tricks to try that could save a family or couple hundreds of dollars. I’ve outlined them in this blog for you.
1⃣ Review your policy.
Are you still paying for pregnancy cover even though you’re done with having children? You could save hundreds of dollars maybe by downgrading. Or are you BOTH paying for pregnancy when only one of you needs to? Perhaps you could ‘de-couple’ your policy into two singles policies, which can also sometimes save hundreds over a year - and you might qualify for a ‘new customer’ deal such as one month free or $100 cashback on the new singles policy you’re creating.
2⃣ Increase your excess.
Since 2019, when you choose your level of cover, you can agree to pay an excess as high as $750 per person with a maximum of $1,500 payable for couples/family policies, which could shave hundreds from your annual premium. So if you're not expecting to have to go to hospital and claim soon, this can be a handy trick.
3⃣ Avoid ‘gap’ payments by shopping around.
Like any job, don't just accept the first quote! You can do this by using hospitals and doctors who have an agreement with your Health Fund. Your fund wants you to do this so ask them for a recommendation! More info at your health fund's website or privatehealth.gov.au
4⃣ Don’t settle for anything less than a special deal.
Health Insurance gets very competitive in the lead-up to tax time each year, and there are some great offers, from ‘one month free’ (or more) to hundreds of dollars in gift cards. Check them out!
5⃣ Suspend if you have to - don’t cancel yet!
If you’ve lost work and you’re in financial difficulty, it may not be necessary to cancel your policy. Many funds are allowing policy suspensions for customers, which could be the smart move in the short term - it means you can come back later and maybe still avoid the tax penalties associated with dropping out.
6⃣ Check if you're due for a Tax Time windfall
If your household income was reduced because of COVID-19 this year OR someone in your household turned 65, remember to tell your health fund! These sorts of changes could deliver you a windfall of hundreds of dollars at tax time. Health Insurance customers get up to 29% back as a rebate from the Federal Government, and changes in your age or income can increase or decrease your rebate.^ (e.g. If you’ve gone from the lowest rebate of 0% to the highest of 29%, for example, you could be due for a rebate of over $1000 on a $4000 policy.)
7⃣ Consider 'divorcing' your Couples policy
'Divorcing’ or ‘de-coupling’ can sometimes save hundreds of dollars a year. Here’s how it works. A couples policy usually costs about double what a singles policy costs. But couples don’t always require the same level of cover. One of you might need cover with pregnancy, for example, while the other does not. Or one might want heart cover and joint reconstructions while the other does not. Sometimes couples can save by splitting their policy into two singles (e.g. under the current special offer for our members with HCF, the difference between a Bronze Hospital policy and a Gold Hospital policy for a single in NSW can be over $1150.) Plus, when you ‘divorce’ your policies, one of them becomes a NEW policy and could be eligible for a cashback offer for new members.
🆘 COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGES 🆘
Fortunately, ALL health funds have agreed to:
- postpone the usual April 1 premium increase until at least October,
- ensure everyone who has a hospital policy is covered for complications from COVID-19, and
- If you’ve lost work and can’t pay, they will offer policy suspensions and other relief on a case-by-case basis.
🔺 Premium Increases Postponed 🔺
All health funds have agreed to postpone the April 1 premium increase for six months.
One exception: West Australian fund HBF has gone further and postponed for 12 months.
❗ Cover for COVID-19 ❗
If you get COVID-19 and you need to go to hospital, you’ll most likely go to a PUBLIC hospital. Whether or not you have health insurance will be irrelevant to your treatment.
BUT you may need other related treatments in future and if so, private health funds have agreed that: “All hospital policies – from Basic to Gold – will include full hospital coverage for people affected by COVID-19.”
You won’t be able to use your private health insurance for non-urgent elective surgery in the coming months though - it’s been cancelled to free up beds, doctors and nurses for the crisis.
Health Funds are also now covering telehealth services from psychologists, physiotherapists and more to come so you can get those services on your health insurance while you’re stuck at home.
❓ Premium Reductions❓
For hardship cases, again there is no uniform policy but most providers have committed to some form of premium relief for policyholders hit by the crisis if you contact your fund direct. CHOICE research says funds are offering the following suspensions and premium relief:
Medibank and ahm have said they will allow their members to suspend their policies or access relief on their premiums. Contact them here. Medibank confirmed it has given 1% of its customers a policy suspension during the crisis, so they won’t have to cancel.
BUPA promised that “customers who have lost their jobs or are experiencing other financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, will have access to some financial assistance … customers who have received the Commonwealth coronavirus supplement or are sole traders can apply through our website. ... The assistance provided will vary based on individual circumstances.” The form you need is here.
HCF asks members in trouble to call 13 13 34 and apply for assistance or go to this link. They also have Involuntary Unemployment Assistance included in many of their policies, which pays your HCF health insurance premiums for you - up to a maximum amount of time.
nib says members will be able to access premium relief or suspend their policy for up to 6 months while remaining covered for COVID-19-related procedures. More here for their members.
HBF was the first fund in Australia to announce they had dumped upcoming price rises, and now they’ll have the longest deferral with 12 months. The fund was due to implement average increases of 1.98% - the lowest of any fund in the country this year. More here.
🗓️ WHY MARCH & JUNE ARE PEAK TIMES FOR HEALTH INSURANCE DEALS 🗓️
This new graph below shows the percentage of health insurance policies sold in each month of the year.
What does it mean? About one-quarter of ALL health insurance sales occur in just two months of the year - March and June.
Why? Because in March, we usually receive an annual premium increase (although postponed this year until October) and in June we get ready for tax time.
So what? Health funds often make their BEST offers of the year in March and June to try and win us over. So it’s smart to shop around during those months and see what you can get!
Check in regularly for the latest updates. As the money-saving experts, we’re working hard to give our million-plus members all the info you need to come through these tough times in good financial shape.
Any information is general advice, it does not take into account your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs. These fees may be based on either referrals to third parties or on application or approval for products from third party providers.