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The Ultimate Guide to purchasing personal health insurance

Having trouble with getting your first personal health care insurance plan? Read this article to find out all you need to know on how to choose from the multitude of health insurance companies wanting to work with you to meet your needs.

It all seems a bit overwhelming!

Asking somebody to compare health insurance is so broad, it can be tricky to know each and every one of them. However, by being regimental, organised, and selective, health insurance comparison can become a manageable task and, we shouldn’t forget, an important decision to make. The key here is to take your time, with your best interests at heart, and to not commit to the first offer you see. Talk it out with people you can trust, negotiate well with the company consultants, and above all, only commit when you are absolutely sure you are good to go.

Do I even need private health insurance?

You have access to Medicare, simple as that, so if you’re happy with the Medicare service, you’re OK as you are. However, Medicare has its limitations, and, naturally, can be overcrowded in a notoriously stretched service. Some people purchase private health insurance because they want more control over their health care, more choice about the services they use, and preference of doctor. They believe that private health insurance gives them extra benefits, including shorter waiting times, selective appointment-making, and better quality of care security, and “peace of mind”. Though, another reason Australians commonly take out private health insurance is to avoid financial penalties.

Australia’s tax system encourages high-income earners to take out private health insurance as well as paying the 2% levy to help fund Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. If they do not take out private health insurance, they pay a tax penalty called the Medicare Levy Surcharge. After the age of 30, for each year an individual delays in taking out private health insurance, the levy increases by 2% - surely, enough inspiration to get on board with a private health plan.

So, should I go public or private?

To consider a private health compare model with the public health care system is a big topic, and it’s up to each individual, so the debate continues. There are cases where people with private health care still use public services. This can be for a number of reasons, including the convenient locations of hospitals and medical centres, or minor operations with a low waiting time etc.

However, this can lead to an ambiguity of service. Some people expect a private health care service in a public health care space, which is misleading. If you are looking for private service across the board, then it would be best to get private health care and only attend private hospitals, otherwise you could be left disappointed!

If you are a higher earner, private health care makes sense. You have to pay an increased levy anyway, and the service wouldn’t improve for you in the public health care sector. Also, you would be eligible for a government rebate. It must be added, however, that these are means tested. So, dependant on your income it will affect the amount of rebate you will receive.

I want private health insurance, where do I start?

When asking how to compare health insurance plans, there are so many choices to make based on the specific plan perfect for you, that it may be best to create your own health insurance comparison spreadsheet. It may sound a basic and almost obvious approach to take, but it will be far more convenient having a spreadsheet as a health fund comparison method. A bunch of tabs on your laptop can cause you to easily lose your place, but having all the options presented to you on one manageable and editable sheet will offer you a smoother comparison experience.

Any other tools you recommend?

Yes! There’s a lot of maths involved with comparing health funds,so it is valuable to have a tool to help with this task. Compare health insurance plans calculator tools are perfect to assist you in giving a health funds comparison from a financial perspective, so it would be wise to have one handy. These can be found online through a ‘compare the market health insurance’ type platform. It really does well at putting everything in basic Lehman’s terms.

Comparison websites are a great way of having all your prospective options listed on a site to categorise the main pain points in your decision making. You may be asked to fill in a few simple details aimed at giving you a more refined list of search results based on your needs. Have ready information on:

What should I look out for when searching?

A Google search is the natural way to begin, but you must be aware that a search for health insurance compared with private health insurance companies, for example, is going to spit out different kind of results. This means that you perhaps need to take a step back and look at what type of health insurance best suits you, and within in that, getting the best health insurance Australia has to offer.

There are different types of health insurance?

Absolutely! People’s primary concerns and living situations vary, so there are many different health insurance plans to suit each individual. Below is a breakdown of some of the variations so you can compare health fund options which speak to your particular niche:

Why should I listen to you?

You don’t have to! Another way of finding out the best way to get a frank health insurance review is to check out…the reviews! When looking to buy items online, looking at the reviews is a great way of getting an understanding of how well the product has been received from users with an no bias, and no agenda. Many companies now have a social media presence to be more approachable and communicative with their current and prospective customers. It’s on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter that you can check out the direct interactions of current customers with the health insurance company of your choice.

Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools, so by visiting the reviews of the customers, it really is a great way to get the inside lane on how the customer feels about the health insurance company and the way they treat their customers.

Another way to get under a company’s finger nails is to ask your friends which health insurance provider they have, and it may be one you are considering. Ask them what plan they are on and how it’s going – this could be a quick way to answer all the questions you had.

If you are getting a family cover plan, talk out the options with your spouse. It concerns them too, so they’ll care very much about what provider is best to go with. Sharing thoughts and ideas can also create further suggestions and considerations which may not have crossed your mind when looking alone.

Do you have any specific providers you would recommend to take a look at?

Peoplecare health insurance aims to give more for less, claims to give as personal a service as possible, turnaround a quick claim, and also promise a quick switch if you are coming over from a competitor. Even if you’ve already got health insurance, it’s worth calling them to see if they can get you a better deal. They claim to make it very easy to switch, and if you do come over from another health fund, you’ll be continuously covered and won’t have waiting periods for anything that you’re already covered for.

In regards to the earlier mention of health insurance comparison sites, iSelect health insurance is a great place to enter your vital information to list private health insurance Australia deals. iSelect health insurance is aware that most people find insurance, utilities and personal finance boring, so they know the importance of getting the searching stage of the process correct the first time. They aim to take care of the boring but important stuff. They offer a service they are proud of to millions of Australians who seek expert advice each year on some of life’s most important purchase decisions.

iSelect health insurance isn’t just another online comparison website, as it offers a service past the initial stage of comparing private health insurance. Comparing online is just the first step in the personalised comparison and expert advisory service. They have an over the phone service too, which provides customers with a far more detailed conversation with their highly trained expert advisers.

Should I commit to a purchase once I have compared?

This may be a bit eager, don’t jump into it just yet. Going from private health insurance comparison sites and straight into a purchase jumps a milestone step in the purchasing journey. From your list of potential companies, make some calls to these directly and have a discussion about what you have found so far, and how the company can add value on top of the plan you are trying to find. Don’t forget that this is a competitive market, so by being transparent about the other plans available to you on your shortlist may open up the opportunity for them to try and improve their own plan to beat their competitors. Don’t be shy here, ask how they can create a plan best suited to your needs in comparison to the other companies you like. And once you’ve had that conversation, call the next company on your shortlist and do the same thing. Once you’ve had these phone conversations and are still unsure, chat it out with someone you can trust. If you are looking to buy health insurance on your own, find out which friends may be using the same health insurance company as yourself. This way, your discussion can hark back to the point made previously about word of mouth recommendations – the best kind of insight you can get.

Another vital person to share this information with – though this will not apply to everyone – is another adult looking to be on the same plan as yourself, namely your spouse. Speak to them about the options, see if they come up with any holes in your research or companies you may have overlooked with similarly great plans on offer.

Before I leave…

Private health insurance is a wise choice, particularly if you are a higher income earner. You are going to be levied for public health care anyway, so encourages you to make the move over. Moreover, there are so many ways to compare health insurance Australia based, that it would be tough to miss the best plans for you. You should have the confidence that with this vast number of companies knocking at the door to get you on board, you can negotiate a deal to suit the plan best for you, you and your partner, or even your whole family, if relevant.

Lastly, once you commit, even after all this research, all this chatting with someone you can trust, all these phone conversations with each company’s consultant, you never know, it may still not be what you are looking for. Do be sure to read your contract before signing it. A lot of the contracts would have you committing to a year, or maybe even longer. Your worst possible situation is waiting to pull out of a contract but realise you are legally bound for 12 months of payments. Negotiate a way to break the contract if ever you need to, just to be on the safe side. For these kind of commitments, it really is a case of having to read the small print to get the best individual health insurance possible!