Cheap Health Insurance for Families

Parents often value health insurance more than singles, since they want the best treatment for their kids, if any accidents happen or medical issues crop up. While health insurance gets more important for families, it also gets more expensive, compared to singles cover.

Finding the right family health insurance that is cheap but still meets their needs is important for most families in Australia.

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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

Why Have Family Health Insurance

Australian's are lucky enough to have Medicare. This is a free service that helps pay for doctor visits and other medical services. It's also a safety net if you need to visit hospital covering you for a public hospital stay in a shared room. Medicare however doesn't cover many things a parent may want for themselves and their kids, such as:

1) Not having to wait for procedures

It's well known that public hospitals across Australia are under strain with very long waiting periods for non-emergency procedures (like knee reconstructions). This means whilst you may be able to get free treatment from the public system, you (or your kids) may need to wait (sometimes years) for surgery, if it's deemed "non-emergency surgery".

2) Not sharing a room with other sick/injured people

Most public hospital accommodation is shared, which can mean as many as eight people could be in your room.

For many, the concept of sharing a hotel room with others wouldn't be an option, so to have to share a room when you're injured or sick is far from ideal! Most policies also provide an option to get treated in a private hospital which can have private rooms available.

3) Not being out-of-pocket after a stay

Medicare doesn't cover all of a families health needs. Some xrays scans, visits to a dentist or new glasses can add up for any family. It's because of this that Australian families are turning towards health insurance for peace of mind.

Not all Private Health Insurance Policies are Created Equal

Getting cover from any private health fund is a step in the right direction, and will improve the level of care your family get if they are sick or injured. Cheap family health insurance may not cover everything your family needs, or could leave you significantly out-of-pocket for some procedures.

On the other hand, expensive family health insurance policies may be a waste of money, with cover for things your family will never use (such as obstetrics).

It's important to compare policies so you don't just get the cheapest family health insurance cover but the one that offers you the best value. To do this you need to compare the different funds and their different policies. Frank recommends looking at these things:

Hospital Cover vs. Extras Cover

The first thing you should consider is what type of benefits you are expecting from your private health cover. If you're looking to be covered by more than Medicare when you need to visit a hospital you should make sure that you include 'hospital cover'.

Frank's cheapest health insurance cover (basic hospital) is just under $125 a month. While there may be cheaper family health insurance policies from other funds, make sure you look at why they are cheaper. This may include additional exclusions, higher excesses and co-payments. Cheap health insurance policies such as basic hospital don't allow you to get treated at a private hospital but you can be treated as a private patient. This means that unlike relying on Medicare, you may not have long waiting periods for treatments.

A private patient, even with cheap health insurance will also get to choose what doctor treats them, unlike the public system. For a family this can mean keeping with the doctor that treats them over time or finding a doctor such a paediatrician they feel comfortable with.

Many families choose to have extras cover in addition to their hospital cover. An extras package offers cover for health services not covered by Medicare or hospital cover such as dental, optical, chiropractic, physiotherapy and acupuncture, among others.

Franks cheapest 'extras only' health insurance cover costs around $55 a month. Just like hospital cover, how much you get back can vary a lot. Many cheap health insurance policies will cover dental procedures like oral exams, cleaning and basic treatment, as well as additional benefits from other specialists like prescription glasses or contact lenses and physiotherapy. More expensive policies may cover other services major dental and orthodontic treatment, and more alternative therapies. The key is to work out the services your family may need and find the cheapest health insurance policy that will meet these needs.

Frank offers the choice of either 50% or 80% back on extras. Choosing the 80% option means the cost goes up, but you have less out of pocket costs when you use extras services. You may find that you reach your annual limits quickly, if you are a regular extras user however. Sometimes the 50% option gives you more bang for your buck.

Picking the Right Cover

Many families choose a family health insurance policy with both hospital and extras. All Australian health insurance companies offer this, which combined may seem expensive but when broken down is great value.

Another option is to get hospital cover with one health fund and extras cover with another. This may help you get the most tailored health insurance to meet your needs but can be additional work with payments and claiming. Instead, most Australian's compare the packaged policies available, and choose the health fund that best suits them.

Most insurance companies also offer different options that can help lower the cost. For hospital cover, you can choose higher excess payments, which can range from $250 to $1,000 annually if you ever need hospital treatment. You may also have the option of removing services that you won't be requiring, such as pregnancy if you're not planning to have any more kids.

With extras cover, you can choose lower payback options (like 50%) for treatments. Some funds also allow you to add or remove certain types of treatments such as orthodontics, chiropractic or podiatry, among others to help lower the cost.

Getting Lower Premiums

Health insurance premiums tend to increase on a regular basis because of government regulations and higher medical costs. If you're looking to spend much less on your private health cover, it's best to shop around and compare policies prior to April each year. Often not-for-profit funds such as GMHBA & Frank offer superior value as they don't need to pay dividends to shareholders.

Many insurance companies also offer discounts if you pay via direct debit, or may have promotional offers like price matching competitors, giving free months or waiving certain waiting periods.

Government Rebates for Private Health Insurance

Families may qualify for government rebates of between 10-30%, depending on which income bracket you fall into. Prior to July 2012, the government rebate was worth 30% for anyone who took out private health insurance. Nowadays, the general rule is: the less you earn the higher your rebate.

Overall, to get the best value out of your private health cover, look at what essentials your family needs and look for policies that offer the most options and discounts.

We don’t play favourites. Choose your own extras provider (as long as they’re registered in their field of service of course)

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