Cheap Health Insurance in Australia

Private health insurance is not just for families and high income earners. In Australia, there are over 30 private health insurers that offer different levels of cover. This often makes it confusing.

Private health insurance is becoming more important for people these days. Public hospitals that offer free treatments through Medicare are fast becoming overcrowded. If you need medical treatment for something that isn't an emergency, you could wait months if not years before you can get surgery. Waiting lists at public hospitals are long, and can mean that you have to live with a condition for a while.

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* The price shown is per week and applies to a {LIFESTAGE} living in VIC with a $500 excess. It excludes LHC loading and includes a Base Tier Government Rebate

On the other hand, care in a private hospital can be very expensive without health insurance. Knee surgeries like ACL reconstructions, which are quite common, can cost upwards of $10,000. That's a lot of money if you need to pay for the treatment out of your own pocket.

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Cheaper and Faster Options with Health Insurance

For those that haven't taken the plunge with private health insurance, you'll be surprised to find out that some of the cheapest health insurance plans are as low as $55-65 a month if you're single. This can depend on where you live, since some states (like the Northern Territories and Western Australia), are cheaper than New South Wales or Queensland.

But whether you're signing up for the cheapest or most expensive package available, rates generallychange on a yearly basis. Increasing medical costs and government regulations affect the prices that health insurance companies charge.

Different private health insurers' cheapest policies can be classified into two types: Public and Basic cover.

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Public Cover

Some insurance companies offer public hospital cover as their most affordable policy. With this type of cover you are admitted into a public hospital as a private patient. This gives you more control over when you are treated and who you are treated by. This is subject to hospital and specialist availability of course.

This gives you more control around which doctor or specialist you see and when you receive treatment rather than relying on the public system. It is not the same as private cover though. Some specialists only work in private hospitals, so it doesn't suit everyone all the time.

If the public hospital has private rooms available, you can easily upgrade by paying the price difference between a single and shared room. Your insurer will only cover you for the standard rate in a shared room. Also any extra luxuries you choose will come out of your own pocket. The upside is you'll still be paying much less than a private patient without your own health insurance.

In short, public cover gives you cover for a wider range of treatment, more control over when you are treated and which specialist provides it, and some options to pay for bells and whistles when you want them.

Frank's Basic hospital cover is perfect if you just want private cover in a public hospital.

Basic Cover

Many private health funds don't have a straight public hospital cover, and offer basic cover for private hospital admission as their cheapest policy. As always, you still have the option of choosing a public hospital for treatment. You can also select any one of the private hospitals the health fund has an agreement with.

Getting treated at a private hospital with basic cover may have out of pocket expenses and restrictions. Some common restrictions which are not covered by the cheapest basic plans include cataract surgery, obstetrics and childbirth services, joint replacements and cardiac services. If you want extra perks like private rooms, you would normally have to pay the difference.

As far as seeking treatment for any of the excluded services mentioned above, you can still choose to go to a public hospital, under the public hospital system and get full coverage by Medicare. You may just have to wait on a public waiting list, share a room, or be allocated a doctor.

Whether you have cheap health insurance that offers public or basic cover, receiving full coverage with nil to minimal out of pocket costs still largely depends on the fees of your treatment, hospital and doctors. If these fees are more expensive than what Medicare and private health funds deem fair in its policies, you may still have to shell out money. With this in mind, it's always worth discussing your options with both your health insurance company and your doctors before being admitted for a procedure.

With Frank's Basic hospital cover you can add some private cover so you'll be covered for common procedures in a private hospital.

Getting the Cheapest Policy

Paying a Higher Excess

Once you've narrowed down your private health fund choices, the most effective way to get the lowest monthly premiums is to select policies that have a higher excess payment. Both public and private hospitals will require you to pay excess upon admission as a private patient.

Excess payments can range between $0 to $1000. There can be an impact on your tax return if your health insurance has an excess above $500, so whilst it might seem to be the cheapest option, talk to your health insurer, or accountant before selecting one of these excesses.

Health insurers only charge excess once per year, per person admitted. It won't matter if you have multiple hospital visits throughout the year, as long as you've paid the initial excess fee.

Government Rebates

If you are not a high income earner, you can take advantage of subsidies known as Government Rebates and get lower premiums. These rebates are offered to encourage more people to get private health insurance and rely less on Medicare.

Typically, the older you are and the less money you make qualifies you for a higher rebate percentage. These Government rebates can be claimed upon filing your annual tax return or as a reduction in your health insurance premiums. This means you pay less every month, then the amount of rebate that you receive will be checked when you lodge your tax return.

Discounts and Special Offers

With many health insurers competing to get your business, you should check for special offers like 1 month free. If you pay your premiums in advance, you may be able to delay rate increases for a period of time as well.

When is the Best Time to Buy Private Insurance?

New government regulations that affect health insurance companies and annual rate increases usually take effect on April 1 each year. So you should start shopping for new policies a few months prior, as soon as the health funds will know what their new rates will be. If you already have private health insurance, you can easily switch to a new provider without having to serve waiting periods you have already served with your current insurance company.

With all the regulation changes related to private health cover, e.g. discount structure for government rebates, many Australians are switching to insurance companies that offer cheaper no-frills packages. There can be hundreds of dollars' worth of savings in insurance premiums each year at stake. It all comes down to getting the right private health cover that is right for your lifestyle and needs.

Get a quote with Frank for Cheap Health Insurance in Australia.

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