Never judge your private health insurance policy by its cover. Since private insurance plans differ vastly in the benefits that provide based on cost, policy holder need, and individual insurers, make sure the benefits your policy offers are the right benefits for you.
It should seem obvious that a young person in their 20's is going to have different medical insurance needs than his 55-year-old parents, and that his parents are going to have different coverage needs than their 75-year-old parents.
Yet all too often, Australians purchase or hang on to policies that they may have outgrown, or that may not be geared to their life stage, lifestyle and health issues. In turn, they may be either over-paying or under insured.
Comparing health insurance policies based on life stage is important in selecting the best coverage for your individual needs. For instance, parents with adult dependent children can carry coverage for them up to the age of 25, and can drop obstetrics coverage once they know that they will not be having any more children.
When comparing plans, make sure your needs are being identified by first considering which of the five general life stages you and your family fits into, and plan accordingly. Typically, these five stages include:
Singles – For young, healthy individuals, your health insurance should probably be geared towards emergencies such as injuries caused in an accident. If you become ill, your plan would need to cover ongoing treatments. You may need optical or dental coverage; selecting the right insurance coverage is a matter of comparing health policies and determining the level of coverage you want that fits your budget.
If you're a 20- or 30-something single, you probably will not need hip replacement surgery any time soon, but you should probably make sure you're covered for reproductive health issues if they arise, or treat for sports injuries if you're active.
Young couples – Couples who have not yet started a family may compare health policies that include obstetrics and fertility treatments. Additionally, young couples sometimes face short-term or long-term illness of a partner. Your health insurance can provide financial security and the comprehensive level of care and treatment you will need if the unexpected happens.
Families – Whether you're planning to start a family, planning on having more children, or dealing with an illness or injury of a family member, your health insurance should provide the coverage you need to ease the financial crunch that medical costs can create. Choosing the best insurance plan for your family means taking into consideration the cost of hospital care, the physician or specialists that may be needed, and even after care. If yours is a young family with children aged infant to teen, it's important to have coverage that includes dental and orthodontic treatments.
Empty-nesters – This group can include individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, facing an increased risk of problems that are common as we get older. Heart disease, knee and hip replacements, elevated blood pressure, arthritis and other medical conditions begin to appear as we age. Your health insurance policy that has served you for years may no longer be suited to your lifestyle and needs. Review your existing coverage, and compare it to other health plans to make sure you're not paying for services you no longer need, and that you are protected for those health issues that starting popping up after 40.
Retirees – Australians 65 and over should consider keeping their private health coverage, since the government offers a 35 percent rebate on private coverage premiums; for individuals 70 and over, that rebate is increased to 40 percent.
Retirees who opt out of health coverage have up to three years to pick it back up; if it is not picked up within three years, your premium will cost an additional two percent for every year you are over 30.
Purchasing private health insurance can be confusing and expensive. The more comprehensive the coverage you choose, the more expensive it can get. Shop around and compare health insurance policies and premiumss carefully before you buy. By thoroughly comparison shopping, you can cut as much as 30 percent off your health insurance premium.