Monday, April 14, 2014

9 Tips for Managing Health Insurance Premium Pain


We came to our health insurance later in life than we should have. Husband was 36, so we are stuck with an extra 10% age loading on our premium till 2022.

I didn't see the point of health insurance if you didn't earn over the amount where the additional Medicare Levi applies (currently $160,000+ for families). We were so far off that amount (still are) that it seemed like an unnecessary expense in a country where you can see a doctor and have basic medical needs met at no or little cost. 

It wasn't until I found out during my 2012 pregnancy that my child might have medical problems (he doesn't) that I took out insurance. If Seb was going to need extra help I wanted to make sure he would be covered from birth and as it turns out he was fine. But I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease only a few months after his birth, and with all my hospitalisations in the last 18 months suddenly I am seeing the point of private health insurance! I shudder to think of the waiting lists and expense I would have incurred for all my expensive medicines, specialists, and hospital stays without my insurance.

In the short time frame we have had our policy we have had increase letter after increase letter hit our inbox. Yet another one arrive just the other day! My premium will be going up from $208.98 per month to $231.54, or almost 11%. My original premium, back mid 2012 was $192.68. In the space of less than 2 years my premium has increased by 20%. That's enormous! 

What can we do to make our Health insurance work as hard as the premiums?

  • Check for policy discounts. Ask your employers, superannuation, and other insurances for Health Insurance offers. You might qualify for a discount or at the very least an upgrade. Check also with family as their corporate cover might extend to family members.
  • Shop around regularly for those joining offers, there may be discounts or freebies for changing. Just make sure premiums and limits are in your favour.
  • Think differently. Husband has the slightest possible prescription and doesn't need glasses for general wear so we use his optical budget for sunglasses each year.
  • Use them up. If your script doesn't change and your glasses are in good condition consider on selling your new frames once it becomes apparent you don't need them. I've sold spare frames for $60 each.
  • Manage Exclusions. Check your policy for possible exclusions that could save you money. Think hard about them though, you never know when a medical tragedy can hit and you may wish you had hip replacement after all!
  • Review your excess. Consider adjusting your hospital excess if there are any benefits. We took advantage of a promotion to decrease our excess slightly that includes 2 free hospital admissions per year per person. Definately worth it when I consider that I seem to be admitted 2-3 times per year.
  • Preventative Health Options. It's possible that weight loss, cigarette quitting, gym memberships and other preventative life quality options might be included in your policy. Talk to your doctor to see if there is anything you may be able to adopt to improve your health.
  • Be creative with your payment options for expensive medical services. Madeleine's orthodontic work was meant to be paid for over 20 months but we were able to negotiate for slightly smaller payments over 20 months with a small lump sum 3 months later in January. The timing of our payments mean that I will be able to make a claim for the last of Maddy's orthodontic cover in a 3rd calendar year and get more back for her braces.
  • Use them or lose them! Make sure you are taking kids of all ages to the dentist and optomestrist regularly for checkups. Many benefits do not roll over from year to year so if you do not make the time for a visit this year the opportunity is lost.
Do you have any other hot tips to make the most of health insurance?

7 comments:

  1. Many massage places will happily put your massage through as remedial so you can get $25 or so off the price, just show them your card.

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    1. Love it! I never thought of that, will have to check it out

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  2. How do you use optical on sunglasses? My partner and son don't need optical only I do

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    1. My husband has an extremely faint prescription, so faint he doesn't really need glass for anything, but as he has a script he can use it to get tinted lenses and choose Sunglasses. We use ours at Specsavers so he can get 2 pairs each year. I almost wish my 13 year old didn't have such perfect vision so she could get sunnies too!

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  3. My intellectually disabled adult son is on a disability pension. Because he does not pay tax he doesn't get any rebates. I have to pay the full amount for him.

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    1. Oh my goodness, I never even thought about that side of things. I can only imagine how much the premium hurts under those circumstances. I'm shocked there isn't a better structure to encourage and support people on a disability pension to get the medical insurance they need more than any other!

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