Hey Lifehacker, I am overwhelmed by the options available for private health insurance. I am confused over which type of cover would be the best and cheapest to choose from. My partner and I are planning for a baby by next year end so I would want an insurer that would cover the pregnancy charges as well. Thanks, Unsure
Medicine/cash image: Shutterstock
Choosing a private health insurer definitely isn't something you want to rush into. In a recent study, CHOICE looked at more than 25,000 health insurance policies including hospitals and extras across 19 health care funds. It found that on average, members pay around one fifth of their total health care expenditure; the highest contribution in the English speaking world. There has also been a spate of price hikes, which has forced many members to downgrade their level of cover.
Your first port of call should be privatehealth.gov.au. This is a government run website that provides a wealth of information on private health insurance in Australia; including a comprehensive comparison tool that can help you choose the right policy for you and your family.
This is essentially an in-depth questionnaire that narrows down the options into a manageable size based on your answers. If you're not sure about the level of cover you want, this is an excellent place to start.
Unfortunately, the majority of basic policies do not cover obstetrics/pregnancy or only pay restricted benefits. It's also important to note that you will need to serve a waiting period when you start a new private health insurance policy.
For obstetrics, there is a maximum waiting period of 12 months. You'll therefore need to organise your health insurance well in advance of the actual pregnancy. (If your partner hasn't served the full waiting period before being admitted to hospital she won't be able to claim any benefits.)
To keep costs down, review your extras and hospital cover and only sign up for stuff you need. You may be able to get a discount by paying annually or via direct debit. You should also check to see whether you qualify to join a restricted membership fund. Good luck!
If any readers have a health insurance recommendation, particularly for customers who are up the duff, please let Unsure know in the comments section below.
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