You’re about to be slugged $200: Here's how to stop it

IF YOU are one of the millions of Aussies with private health insurance, you're about to be hit with a serious price hike.

From April 1, there will be an average increase of 3.95 per cent - which means Australians with health cover will be forking out almost $200 extra.

It will be the 17th year running that insurance premiums have been jacked up.

According to The Conversation, premiums have increased by an average of 5.35 per cent each year since 2000 - considerably more than wage growth.

The 2018 increase will be the smallest since 2001, but is still more than twice the rate of inflation and almost double the rate of wage growth, The Conversation reports.

The actual dollar figure that customers will be charged will depend on which health fund and policy they are covered by - Medibank Private members with basic cover will see a decrease in their premiums, for example, while premiums will increase for those with comprehensive cover, according to The Conversation.

Today, almost half of the population has private health insurance, compared to an Australian high of almost 80 per cent in the 1970s and a low of just 30.3 per cent in 1998.

However, a survey conducted by iSelect has revealed growing dissatisfaction with private health cover, with 90 per cent of respondents saying they were feeling angry, frustrated and ripped off about yet another rise in the cost of living, while 36 per cent said they were now struggling to justify the cost of private health cover, and more than half questioning the worth of their private health insurance.

And according to comparison site finder.com.au, 10.4 million policy holders haven't switched health funds in over five years - despite it being one of the best ways to avoid the premium increase.

While previous research has found members tended to stick with the same insurer for an average of 11.8 years, 48 per cent of policy holders plan on reviewing their cover if their premium increases by four per cent on Easter Sunday.

Finder.com.au has also revealed millions of health insurance members are missing out on $1.5 billion in collective savings by failing to prepay their private healthcare premium before April 1 as a way of beating the price rise.

Health insurance expert Bessie Hassan said Australians needed to find a policy that worked for them.

"Many members will be asking themselves whether their policy is worth it. It's a huge financial outlay for many households and many cannot afford to absorb an extra $200 in premiums every year," she said.

"However, there are ways to reduce the outlay while maintaining the same level of cover, including locking in 2017 prices by paying the annual premium upfront before April 1.

"This can save health fund members $100-$200 on average, plus many insurers offer additional 2-4 per cent discounts for paying 12 months upfront."

The research also found only one in 10 health insurance policyholders regularly switch funds to get the best value policy.

 

alexis.carey@news.com.au



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