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Three lesser-known tips to save on health insurance

health insurance premium effie zahos

There’s only so much you can do to trim your health insurance premiums before you policy becomes worthless.

After shopping around to reduce my premiums, I could have saved $300 to $400 a year by downgrading my policy with another provider but the trade-off as far as I was concerned was too big.

Will I need knee surgery in the future? I don’t know. What about a hip replacement? Hope not! Heart surgery? Please no!

The thing is I don’t know what I will need which is why I have health insurance in the first place.

I can’t afford to protect myself against the unexpected so I buy insurance to cover me for the loss that I can’t afford.

The same applies with items around my home. I can afford to replace my toaster which is why I’m not a big fan of extended warranties but my health – well I’m not taking any chances.

Having said that Domino’s now offers you insurance on your pizza – now that’s an asset that needs protection!

domino's pizza carry-out carryout insurance

It called “pizza carry out insurance” and protects you against disasters like dropping the box before you get home. Don’t worry this isn’t an option in Australia – yet.

For the past 17 years health insurance premiums have gone up and, with an ageing population and increasing medical costs, I suspect they will continue to do so.

Despite this year’s rise of 3.95% being the lowest over that period the average health insurance policy has sky-rocketed by 29.75% in total over the past five years according to comparthemarket.com.au.

The latest increase will see families pay around $4200 a year for a combined hospital and extras policy – up from $4040 a year.

What can you do?

Well the usual tips apply; pay in advance, increase your excess and so on but the real saving will come from changes in government policy.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has gone on record to say there were a “number of options” on the table for the industry which received $6.5 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies and made some of the biggest profits of any Australian firms, as reported by AAP.

Watch this space. For now you could try some of these lesser known tips from comparethemarket.au:

Mix and match – use one provider for hospital cover and another for extras.

Consciously uncoupling – there is no benefit in having a couple policy – two singles may be better as you could remove obstetrics for the male partner whilst keeping it for the female partner who may be trying to conceive.

Keep items “on ice” – you can “turn off” items that you don’t believe you need to be covered for in the immediate future. Take care here as premiums may reduce but you’ll need to serve the waiting periods again if you switch them back on.

Written by Effie Zahos

Effie Zahos

Money magazine editor Effie Zahos started out as a graduate trainee for one of Australia’s major banks. She moved to TV in 1997, kick-starting her career in finance journalism as head researcher for Channel Nine’s Money Show. A regular finance commentator on TV and radio, she is the author of The Great $20 Adventure.

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