Every year, between the end of March and the beginning of April, 11 million Australians with private health insurance are told that their premiums are going up.
From April 1, premiums will go up by an average of 3.95 percent, but this will depend on the insurer and the product. The increase is less than in previous years, but it is still more than wage growth. This makes people wonder if they should give it up or downgrade to save money.
Why have private health insurance?
We all know Australia has a great public health health care system called Medicare that covers everyone. Everyone can get health care, which is paid for in part by a 2% tax on our wages (the Medicare levy). Some of the benefits are being able to see a general practitioner and going to a public hospital.
However, to help pay and keep the public system sound, Australians are urged by the Commonwealth Australian Government to get private health insurance. It makes people pay more income tax (the Medicare levy surcharge) if they don’t take it out, and it rewards those who do (ie rebates on premiums).
45.8% of Australians have private health insurance, which is more than the 31% who did in 1999.
Aussies get private health insurance for many different reasons. Some people can actually save money by getting private health insurance so they don’t have to pay the Medicare levy surcharge. Others choose to get life insurance policies so they don’t have to wait for elective treatment (mostly surgery), so they can pick their own doctor or hospital, or so they can get a private room, better food, or more appealing facilities.
Some people think that if they pay for private health insurance, they can get better care in the private system. People worry that they won’t be able to get the help they need from the public system.
Is It A Question Of Choice With Private Health Insurance Providers?
A big reason why people get private health insurance is so they can choose their own provider. Government and private health insurance companies have been pushing the idea that people should be able to choose the services they get for a number of years, and they have been very successful. Many people now think that having more choices is a good thing, and that private health insurance “enables choice.”
But we ask the question if people actually have a real choice? Not everyone has the same amount of choices, and not everyone with private health insurance gets the choices they want. Boo to that we say!
Private health insurers can limit benefits or give the most benefits to people who use their “preferred providers.” In fact, this makes it harder for consumers to choose. One recent example of this is Bupa’s announcement that, starting August 1, members will have to pay more out of pocket in private hospitals that don’t have a special relationship with the company, and some procedures will no longer be covered by some policies.
Wait Times Are Shorter Than In The Public System
People with medical needs get the help and medial services they need under a universal health care system. The majority of emergency care is given in public hospitals.
The issue starts to come with “non-urgent” or “elective” surgery, as the situation is different. Patients are encouraged to use their private health insurance because of the long wait times for this kind of surgery in the public system.
Whether a patient is on a public or private plan affects how long they have to wait in a public hospital. In 2015-2016, the median waiting time (the time within which 50% of all patients are admitted) was 42 days for public patients, 20 days for private health insurance patients, and 16 days for self-paying patients.
Keep in mind, though, that waiting times depend on how urgently you need care. In 2016–17, 98% of public patients in New South Wales were admitted within the time frame recommended by doctors.
Depending on the type of procedure, there are also different wait times. In 2015-2016, the average wait time for cardiothoracic (heart) surgery was 18 days for public patients and 16 days for everyone else. On the other hand, the average wait for a total knee replacement in the public system was 203 days, while it was only 67 days for all other patients.
Make Sure You Have The Best Health Insurance Policy For Your Needs
If you decide to keep your private health insurance, make sure you’re getting the best deal on a policy that fits your needs. Look for a policy that fits your needs by shopping around. The best part is you can quickly and easily compare health insurance providers through Billy Explores. You can either get a brand new policy, or compare health insurance and your current deal from our panel of health insurance providers.
We recommend making sure you pay attention to what is left out of your health insurance policy. If you want to start a family, you might want to check if pregnancy care is covered. For older people, things like hip replacements and taking care of cataracts may be more important.
Is it worth it to get private health insurance?
If you’re about to turn 30 and don’t have private health insurance yet, now is the time to make a choice.
Before you buy extras coverage, check to see if you would be better off self-insuring, which means setting aside money in case you need extras like dental or eye care.
Every year, look over your health insurance policy and talk to your health insurance fund about how your needs have changed. If something goes wrong, try to get it fixed and see if you can potentially save some money.
If you need a procedure, find out how long you will have to wait in the public system before assuming that the private system will be faster. Check how much you will have to pay out of pocket if you decide to use your own private health insurance. Then you can decide if the cost is worth getting your surgery done a few weeks sooner.
Billy says yes to private health insurance
Right now you have reviewed your need for private health insurance, so Billy thinks it’s the best time to compare health insurance through Billy! We have a great range of health insurance providers waiting to help you save time and effort and explore potential savings. The best thing is, is free and easy. All you need to do is click here to get started!